Laura Marcus (review date 20 June 1986)
SOURCE: "Herself as Others," in Times Literary Supplement, June 20, 1986, p. 682.
[In the following review, Marcus contends that Daitch's first novel, L.C., is a "promising" book with writing that is understated and intelligent.]
It is an unusual pleasure to be able to say of a first novel not just that it is promising but that it delivers the goods. Susan Daitch's L.C. is an important book, in part because it works with materials that are proliferating in feminist publishing—diaries, memoirs, historical reconstructions—and, through complex novelistic strategies and acute historical imaginings, produces a form which encourages us to rethink both fiction and history.
The major part of the novel is taken up with the diary of Lucienne Crazier, a young woman living in Paris immediately before and during the 1848 revolution. The diary, whose entries vary from the elliptical to the highly detailed, records the merging of a private with a public life. Her arranged marriage does not so much disintegrate as slide from view when her husband leaves on a business trip. She begins a series of affairs, the first with the painter [Eugène] Delacroix, the last with the revolutionary Jean de la Tour. Her story is not important merely because she is the mistress of famous men, however, nor is hers a sentimental education. Through Delacroix, she comes to understand and question the romantic and aesthetic idealism which motivated the revolutionary fervour of the previous generation, now transmuted into Delacroix's opaque allegorical representations, With de la Tour she meets [Pierre-Joseph] Proudhon, becomes involved with the revolutionary 14 Juilletists and watches Paris burn. The first part of the novel ends as she prepares for exile in Algiers.
Surrounding this narrative is a double layer of contemporary historical reconstruction. Dr. Willa Rehnfield, an archivist and biographer, finds and translates the diary in 1968. On her death, her assistant Jane Amme discovers it and re-translates the final section, in which...
(The entire section is 865 words.)