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Monday, March 10, 2014
"The Patient" is the main character in the book, By Blood. I did
not even realize that we never learned her name until I began writing this review, ahhhh very clever. There is no doubt that this novel is truly unique in every way and very well written. It did not ensnare my senses until the far middle of the story but I much rather enjoyed the second half and culmination of what happens in this mystifying, intricate web Ellen Ullman weaves between three characters. "The Patient", Dr. Shussler - the analyst, and the mysterious renter/eavesdropper next door. The year is 1974 and setting is San Francisco, neither fact very important to the story. The Patient, a lesbian financial guru in her early 30's attends a weekly session with Dr. Shussler, a woman of unknown age and German origin whose father was a Nazi collaborator. The professor who listens to their sessions from next door, is of the creepiest nature, on trial at his university for a crime never disclosed but hinted at in the creepiest of ways. A most unlikeable fellow and scarily unstable. He develops a love for the unseen patient and wants to help her find her birth parents. I can honestly say the writing is excellent, storyline is wholly original, and the author brings closure to the ending full circle, very well done. But, alas, what is gnawing at me is I don't like any of the characters, not even a little, and the first half which necessarily sets the stage was hard to get through. If not for the surprisingly well done ending I would probably not have felt satisfied at all. Hard to recommend to the masses but if you are intrigued by this mysterious storyline then maybe this one is for you!