(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The story, set in the Boston area in the recent past, is told by Jean-Marc Seymour, the twenty-five-year-old son of Felicity’s former lover. From conversations and recorded messages on his answering machine, he carefully reconstructs the events that drew Felicity and Gus into a world of terror and violence and ultimately led to their disappearance.

Both waiting to cross the border into Canada, Felicity, the curator of a Boston art gallery, and Gus, an insurance salesman from Ontario, witness how a group of Salvadorian aliens are caught while trying to enter Canada illegally in a meat truck. In a spontaneous gesture, they take and hide Dolores Marques, one of the group who had remained undetected. From then on, their lives are transformed, taking on the obsessive single-mindedness of a nightmare.

At least, that is what Jean-Marc imagines. In reconstructing the events, he draws on the memories and dreams with which Felicity and Gus had entrusted him and is astonished to find that their memories and dreams have become his own. Where is the borderline?

The title of the book points to the rich layering of themes within the narrative. It is the tale of a political nightmare seeping into an ordered world of aesthetic meaning and generating a new vision of life. The novel also concerns the adventure of narration, moving on the borderlines between reality and invention and drawing the reader’s attention to a deeper truth residing there.

The author’s juxtaposition of political, personal, and narrative levels suggests that the three are inextricably intermeshed, that meaning lies in a combination of all three. Her vision of the world is both provocative and sympathetic to the human condition. An intelligent and fine work of art, this book offers also a suspenseful and compelling story.


Boston Magazine. Review. LXXVII (December, 1985), p. 122.

Cameron, Elspeth. “Borders,” in Saturday Night. CI (April, 1986), p. 57.

Library Journal. Review. CX (September 15, 1985), p. 93.

The New York Times Book Review. Review. XC (September 1, 1985), p. 8.

Publishers Weekly. Review. CCXXVIII (August 9, 1985), p. 63.