Wednesday 18 April 2012

The Vanishers

Finished April 17
The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits
This was a very odd novel. The main character Julia Severn is a student at a college for psychics. She has been chosen to be a stenographer for one of the professors Madame Ackermann, writing down her psychic experiences. But there develops antigonism between her and the professor when her powers seem to be growing stronger, while the professor's wane.  Julia is also still struggling with her mother's suicide which occurred when she was an infant.
When Madame Ackermann seems to have launched a psychic attack on Julia, causing her to develop a variety of ailments, Julia takes a leave of absence and takes a NYC job modeling rugs. But others come to Julia, offering a cure in exchange for use of her talents. As Julia takes the cure, she also examines her psychic experiences, ponders her issues with her mother, and learns about her relationships with others from those women she meets in psychic experiences, to her father.
A detached sort of book, even though the reader sees things through Julia's eyes, I always felt a step removed from her as a character. As Julia struggles with her emotions around her mother and deals with her father's emotional barricades, she also feels both vulnerable and powerful. This is a very hard novel to describe.