The Carpathians is one of Frame’s later novels. In this work Frame has fully developed the themes found in her earlier books. These themes include the imposture of the writer and of language itself, postcolonial New Zealand, and the experience of insanity.
The Carpathians has an impostor narrator, Dinah Wheatstone. In the novel multiple narrative voices take turns assuming the role of author or central authority. The reader assumes the novelist is JHB, a writer and husband of Mattina Brecon, but finds out at the end that it is her son John Henry, who announces that both his parents died when he was young, and that he never knew them. This series of illusory authors describing illusive experience becomes an analogy for mistaken notions of reality.
Mattina begins the narrative by recounting her trip to the town of Puamahara, where she rents a house on Kowhai Street. Mattina becomes acquainted with her neighbors and meets Dinah Wheatstone (Dinny), a self-proclaimed impostor and novelist. Mattina agrees to read Dinny’s manuscript and, in part two, the narrative voice shifts to Dinny, who describes herself as a graduate impostor and who denies the “existence of anything, of anywhere and anytime.” In the course of the novel the reader becomes familiar, one by one, with the “ordinary, extraordinary” people of Kowhai Street. At the same time, Mattina begins to experience what she calls the presence of the disorder of...
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