The Siege:
A Novel

by Graham Petrie,
195 pages,
ISBN: 1569470766

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Brief Reviews
by Kathryn Woodward

In Graham Petrie's The Siege (Soho, 193 pages, $29.95), the wine "doesn't travel well...and is never exported." One wishes other regional delicacies could be so easily contained.

The setting is something like the former Yugoslavia, though the country names its citizens Luigi, Mark, Walter, and Dorothy. Dorothy has been away for many years. She is returning to the town of her birth, the scene of a wavering, dimly recalled childhood and her brother's implacable death. She is there to study sixteenth-century frescoes, walled over in a fit of censorship, but now newly re-exposed by a bomb. She is accompanied by a husband, Roger.

Roger goes into an immediate snit at the photograph above their hotel room bed, a smiling group shot showing someone about to be sawn in half. He decries the torture museum, but is soon a frequent visitor. Dorothy has abandoned him for the frescoes and their painter, Margaret, who was forced into a nunnery, a woman capable of images to make boiling oil seem like a tepid sitzbath.

Roger sulks, then (surprise!) turns to another woman. In the publisher's blurb he is described as urbane but we are offered only this as a concrete example. Why, Roger, didn't you behave like a man and carry out your threats to go home? By the time you face the partisans, I had grown immune to all the sawing, quartering, and impaling, and wanted nothing more than that they should just get on with it, liberating Dorothy for her own and Margaret's work.

Kathryn Woodward


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