The enigmatic Seraphin Monge, the central character of The Murdered House, reappears in this sequel for only the first third as a living character, but his presence pervades the story and the actions of the two women who were most in love with him. This is a dark, noirish tale, set in Provence and so atmospheric one would think it is the middle of the seventeenth century, but it is actually set right after the first World War, and continues through the end of the Deuxieme Guerre Mondiale. Magnan has been called the master of Provencal gothic, and he evokes the peasant superstitions, the countryside, the work of the inhabitants, their family life, joys and sorrows, and their predilection for gossip about everything. Seraphin becomes representative of the land itself, silent, incredibly strong, and eventually inscrutable. Little can be done to arrest this force of nature, and Seraphin's strength lives on after his death as a mysterious and possibly, miraculous force. Is it true? Did he cure the blind? What other interventions are happening beyond the grave?
May 27, 2010