‘Everything in the world exists to be put in a book.’ Stéphane Mallarmé
THE SECRET SEDUCTION and the Enigma of Attraction: is a love story, in the grand style — full of conflict and the unexpected with a dangerous undercurrent — the dark side of love.
Published by Arcadia, (an imprint of Australian Scholarly Publishing).
Geneva, 1930. Andreas, sits in his nursery and waits patiently for his beloved nanny to appear. The tragedy that will soon occur will affect him for the rest of his life.
Sydney, 1977. A psychiatrist, Andreas Zill, meets Annabelle Eichler, the beautiful but sexually glacial young wife of a colleague at a fund-raising ball. It is Sydney, 1978. They are powerfully drawn to each other. He alludes to Goethe’s novel about the mystery of attraction, and the atoms that link people to each other. When the doctor helps Annabelle with her coat and his fingers brush gently against her neck, the tenderness of his gesture disarms and haunts her, awakening Annabelle’s erotic fascination as well as her curiosity about what lies beneath. One day, Annabelle turns up at Andreas’s clinic. She is interested in the man, but also in analysis, and the fact that Andreas is one of the few doctors who can administer LSD in a clinical situation. She intends to try the drug, to open the doors of perception.
Annabelle wants Andreas, yet fears, his dark side, which actually matches her own. Andreas too, fights back his desire, particularly as Annabelle has become his patient. Still, after one of the LSD trips, they become lovers. A summer of erotic love begins and the therapy sessions turn into lovemaking sessions. When Andreas’s wife goes to Switzerland, they meet at his house. Andreas hopes Annabelle will leave her husband but she resists because Andreas cannot give her the security she needs — his life is in chaos — his problems are endless. He is in debt, having squandered a fortune, is being sued for the death of a patient, he has to care for his grown-up crippled son, and he is haunted by his past. Their love becomes destructive. ‘You’re cruel. Your perfection, your beauty is cruel. You make a man feel helpless, flawed,’ Andreas tells Annabelle. When he tries to pass her on to another therapist, she walks out on him, for ever, she thinks. But Annabelle is wrong. One day she receives a phone call. Andreas wants to see her. She goes to him. It is a sweet and harrowing experience. And the secret that cast a dark shadow over his life, is revealed.
‘Finally, she could allow herself to reach out to him, to call his name in the dark, like the mermaids of his childhood. And he would enter into her bed, her dreams, her soul and whisper, Annabelle, before he left her to the next wave of sleep.’
QUOTES ABOUT THE SECRET SEDUCTION and the Enigma of Attraction:
‘This remarkable author has taken her reader to a place where few writers have been before. The professional bond between therapist and patient has at last been broken; now we are able to explore its tragic consequences. The Secret Seduction glows like cobalt: its colours are often passionate, moving, and sad.’ James Cowan (author, critic, academic and Gold Medal award for Literature)
“The sexual scenes are indeed very erotic and it will appeal to many. The story is hypnotic.” Jeffrey Masson, best selling international author and psychoanalyst.
“An immensely talented writer. This is a very beautiful and compelling story. Would attract a cross-over readership of those who want to lose themselves in a tangled story of love, lust and betrayal, as well as those who are interested in psychology, and also drawn to literary fiction.” Anouska Jones, publishing consultant.
“Victoria Thompson writes erotica so well and so bravely. The sensuality of this book is outstanding. But of course it isn’t its main theme. I read this as a haunting tale of two complicated, wounded, intelligent people trying to redeem themselves through each other, looking for salvation and almost finding it. This is a heartbreaking book.”–Lee Kofman, author.
The book can be bought at Gleebooks or Abbeys in Sydney, and at Readings in Melbourne. Or from the publisher; www.scholarly.info or phone: (03) 9329 6963 Also as an e-book from Amazon
REVIEW from The Australian Weekend Arts & Book “Review”
Shrink-wrapped affair skirts the dark side
- PATRICIA ANDERSON
- THE AUSTRALIAN
- JANUARY 2, 2016 12:00AM
The Secret Seduction and the Enigma of Attraction by Victoria Thompson.
When Irish songwriting sensation Andrew Hozier-Byrne was interviewed by The Irish Times about his hit song Take Me to Church, he said: “I found the experience of falling in love … was a death, a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment … if you see yourself through their eyes … everything you believed about yourself gone.”
Closer to home, Richard Glover writes about falling in love in his memoir Flesh Wounds: “I can still identify the moment it happened … I felt myself landing inside my own body. I wasn’t hovering above, watching, in the way I’d always done — doubting, distrustful — as if I were an actor forced to play a role called ‘myself’. Suddenly, here I was, inside my own body, looking out through my own eyes, looking at her.”
Instant attraction — and ultimately obsession — sustains Victoria Thompson’s third novel, The Secret Seduction and the Enigma of Attraction. Her narrative opens in Geneva 1930. A boy waits for his daily, magic-filled excursion with his young blonde nanny. When she arrives she is dressed differently, smells differently and is agitated. She locks herself in a room, darkness descends, the boy is inconsolable. His father arrives, opens the locked door, shatters the glass to release the gas and carries her lifeless body to the bed, saying: “What have I done?”
Thompson then transports the reader to Sydney. It is 1977. That inconsolable boy is now a psychiatrist attending a glittering fundraising evening for the Prince of Wales Hospital. He is transfixed by a young blonde woman on the dance floor. Her manner is cool. When Andreas Zill and Annabelle Eichler are introduced by her husband, also a specialist, something takes place which is best embodied in Goethe’s novel Elective Affinities, which uses as a metaphor for human passion the scientific phenomenon of certain chemicals that seek to combine.
Thompson has worked as a psychotherapist so she is entering a fictional realm for which she has a factual armature. Her language is unadorned, a good vehicle for someone immersed in such an esoteric subject. And this subject is a taboo: a psychiatrist’s emotional and physical entanglement with a client.
When Annabelle decides to embark on a course of psychotherapy with Andreas, she is determined they will become lovers. A year later, she is still attending the Bollingen Clinic. (Thompson has named the clinic Bollingen after Carl Jung’s tower on the upper shores of Lake Zurich because it was “a symbol of psychic wholeness”.)
She dresses carefully, she writes poetry for Andreas, she brings small gifts. She congratulates herself: “The observer had become the observed.” He initially resists, knowing it will deform the strict rituals of psychotherapy and there is no going back. Some sort of ‘‘transference’’ takes place and the reader comes to understand that both parties are scarred by a sense of abandonment, a desire for control and an inability to trust. Interestingly, these human issues hold the attention far more than the transgressing of a professional code.
The first year is one of intoxication: the lovers’ secret triumphs in hotel rooms and secluded restaurant booths, and the sensation that every moment, every object, is invested with some kind of aura.
Three years later the hairline fractures in the relationship have opened into menacing fissures, and Thompson’s novel is at its most convincing when things turn dark. The reader might surmise, correctly I think, that Thompson is more galvanised when writing about loss and disorientation than about rapture or happiness.
In Thompson’s previous novel, City of Longing, the planned assignation between a young woman and an older man who is attracted to her from the other side of the world does not take place because he dies before she arrives. As Annabelle and Andreas’s story moves towards its end, the reader is reminded of the words Thompson quotes from the philosopher Philo of Alexandria: “Be kind … for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
Patricia Anderson is a writer and editor.
The Secret Seduction and the Enigma of Attraction
By Victoria Thompson
Arcadia, 242pp, $29.95
VICTORIA THOMPSON’S LOVE STORY WITH A DIFFERENCE
In her latest book author Victoria Thompson explores the minefield of patient therapist relationships in an unusual and intriguing way, writes Siboney Duff.
Literary love stories tend to follow a raft of expected conventions. Heightened sexual tension (usually between young-ish protagonists) is one of them; an initially antagonistic charge between the eventual lovers is another, as is the pairing of a couple who will need to overcome considerable odds in order to be together. Indeed, such trajectories are so common that when a book comes along which contests some of these ideas, it raises more than a few eyebrows.
Such is the case with Victoria Thompson’s The Secret Seduction and the Enigma of Attraction, a love story with a difference. Opening in the 1930s, we witness through the eyes of a young boy, the sad and untimely death of his nanny. Fast forward forty years, and that same boy is now a renowned psychotherapist (Andreas Zill) attending a formal function at which he meets the beguiling young wife (Annabelle Eichler) of another doctor. The attraction is immediate and they each leave each other that night knowing a special connection has been made.
Soon after their first encounter, Annabelle begins to see Andreas as his patient. It is a deliberate strategy on her part to seduce him and yet the psychotherapeutic process will be one which unearths complex issues for both patient and therapist. And therein lays the main point of difference between this novel and others of the genre. The sanctity of the patient doctor relationship is one which many writers are loath to broach for the precise reason that it presents a moral minefield. And yet Victoria Thompson, once a psychotherapist herself, wanders directly into the vortex of that very minefield with confidence.
As the affair burgeons over time, and both Annabelle and Andreas are forced to confront difficult realities about themselves and each other, the novel takes an interesting turn, examining the nature of those elements that draw us to our lovers and the psychology of intimate relationships. And it was at this point that the story began to really hold my interest.
Author Victoria Thompson
Author Victoria Thompson – wandering into the vortex.
I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly enamoured (pardon the pun) with the initial scenes encompassing the early days of their relationship; however, by the time (a few years into their affair) that the cracks were apparent and growing I began to enjoy the story more. I was also intrigued (and alarmed) by the justifications used by both characters to condone and continue a relationship that challenged the sanctity of both marriage and the therapist/patient relationship.
In all, I found this to be an intriguing novel, primarily for the issues it raised and the discussions it would no doubt inspire. Definitely one for the book club.
“The Secret Seduction and the Enigma of Attraction”
By Victoria Thompson
Arcadia, 242pp, $29.95 (An imprint of Australian Scholarly Publishing P.O. Box 299 KEW VICTORIA 3101 AUSTRALIA Tel: 613 9329 6963)
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