The Archivist is a debut novel of remarkable depth and power. Set in the hushed world of a prestigious American university, it weaves a story of love and loss, recognition and redemption. Matthias Lane, 65, is the university’s orderly archivist. Graduate student Roberta Spire, 35, is determined to gain access to some of the collection’s sealed letters - ones written by T.S. Eliot to his close friend Emily Hale. Roberta believes they hold the keys to Eliot’s religious conversion, his wife’s suicide, and his emotional detachment. As Matthias considers Roberta’s request, he is confronted with the eerie parallels between the poet’s life and hisown. Narrator George Guidall voices each emotional and psychological shift in the archivist’s revelations. When Suzanne Toren joins him to relate a journal kept by Matthias’ wife before her death, this chronicle adds an unforgettable dimension to an assured and thoughtful novel.
©1998 Martha Cooley (P)1999 Recorded Books
My book group read this book and I enjoyed it more than the women who read it in paperback or ebook form. That's a credit to the readers -- a male and a female voice whose excellent performances add dimension to a very flat book. Basically, nothing happens because the story is one of past secrets revealed and attempts to atone for past mistakes. It is weighted down by too many (and too implausible) parallels in this depressing story of madness, betrayal, family lies, the Holocaust, rewriting one's personal history.
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