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Trauma    by Patrick McGrath order for
by Patrick McGrath
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Knopf, 2008 (2008)
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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In Trauma, another top-notch psychological mystery from accomplished author Patrick McGrath, readers are invited to see the ways in which the repressed trauma of a man's past can intrude upon and affect him and others in surprising and devastating ways.

When the highly recommended Trauma begins, readers learn a great deal from the narrator Charlie Weir, a Park Avenue psychiatrist who talks about his past and will soon meet Nora Chiara, and as Charlie will then observe, 'Then my life changed.'

However, as a perceptive man who is often eager to point out ironies and paradoxes in other people's lives, Charlie is strangely enough ill-equipped to recognize the irony of his own observation about his life-changing encounter with Nora even as he and she begin an ostensibly idyllic relationship. The depth and effects of the unrecognized irony can be fully realized by Charlie only when he is eventually forced to come to grips with his childhood, his complicated relationships with his parents and his brother Walt, and his awkward relationships with ex-wife Agnes and daughter Cassie. Moreover, as he begins to discover more about Nora and her vulnerabilities, and as minor disturbances threaten to destroy their relationship, Charlie - a man who remains haunted by his unacknowledged past and weakened by inappropriate hostility - slowly approaches the breaking point beyond which there might be no survival.

With a remarkable clarity and power in his narrative, McGrath takes readers into the mind and soul of Charlie Weir, an allegedly composed and self-assured man who is nevertheless being relentlessly pursued by a painful, inevitable crisis.

Finally, the bottom line is: Trauma is a powerful tale that will haunt you. Don't miss it!

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