Jean-Marc says that he has constructed the story of Felicity’s disappearance from odd pieces of evidence. Yet he also lays claim to a rare gift for tinkering. One requirement of his trade, he says, is precision: “I tap, I listen, I adjust the pins, I am priest of austere and inviolable computations.” That, he says, is only a beginning, for then,This is where tempering comes in. This is where art and intuition and musicality apply. This is what distinguishes the master piano tuner from the mere technician.
Breaking free from his usual lowly role in artistic performance, he assumes the role of the maestro of his imagined representation of reality.
At the outset, Felicity is no more politically active than the philandering, venial Gus. Her interest is art. She is a distinguished art historian and curator of an art gallery in Boston. As Jean-Marc explains, however, she is a woman who has spent her life crossing geographical and spiritual borders, a skill which recommends her to Jean-Marc’s father. Felicity is chief among many consorts of the Old Volcano, the voracious artistic genius whose creativity and life flout societal borderlines.
Jean-Marc recalls that Felicity spent her childhood in India and Australia before coming to Canada and the United States, and imagines that she, always the vagabond, will eventually reappear. Yet there is a dark, foreboding side to Felicity, too. In a “wilderness file,” she keeps clippings...
(The entire section is 410 words.)