The Hunters - A Simple Tale: Two Novellas
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"A Simple Tale" is the moving account of Maria Poniatowski, an aging Ukrainian woman who was taken by the Germans for slave labor and eventually relocated to Canada as a displaced person. She struggles to provide her son Radek with every opportunity, but his eventual success increases the gulf between him and his mother. What of the past is she to preserve, and how to avoid letting the weight of that past burden the present? Maria's story is about the moments of connection and isolation that are common to us all.
"The Hunters," the second novella, is narrated by an American academic spending a summer in London who grows obsessed by the neighbors downstairs. Ridley Wandor, a plump and insipid caretaker of the elderly, lives with her ever-unseen mother and a horde of pet rabbits she calls "the hunters." While the narrator researches a book about death, all of Ridley Wandor's patients are dying. Loneliness breeds an active imagination. Is having such an imagination always destructive? Or can it be strong enough to create a new reality?
Far-flung settings and universal themes give a sweeping appeal to Claire Messud's work.
alphabet, within nine months, and could write her own, her husband’s and her son’s names, in a whimsical medley of lowercase and capital letters; but in truth she found it hard to listen to the crisp, haughty inflections of Edith Whitby, the camp administrator’s wife, a matron of fifty with rigorous corsetry and uplift whose very bosom seemed to point accusingly at Maria and denounce her insufficient progress; and Maria found that as her speech, already well under way, with Lev, under the
Tuesday of August in 1993, and saw, at once, the trail of blood smeared along the wall from the front hall towards the bedroom, she knew that this was the end. She had come every Tuesday morning—vacations and holidays excepted, and excepting also the still-painful six months in 1991 when Mrs. Ellington had banished her in an inexplicable fit of pique—for forty-six years. She had come, first, to the house on Laurel Heights, and then, when Mrs. Ellington had decamped to the apartment on Manley
knives and guns of various sizes and which announced in large, stenciled white letters on each side, BRENT COUNCIL WEAPONS AMNESTY. “I’m sure it helps to be settled in with a new patient,” I observed, wanting to show that I remembered our conversation. “How is the old fellow? And how do you find his daughter—you were concerned about her?” Ridley Wandor’s laugh revealed the points of her teeth. “Oh, time moves on, I’m afraid. Time moves on. The old gentleman passed. Very suddenly. I’d only been
her creampuff physique and bluish cloud of hair familiar, though whether I had actually noticed her the previous summer or merely saw in her the template that haunted the Kilburn High Road and comprised the queue in the malodorous local post office I couldn’t say. Her voice was high, and lilting, and when I mentioned the Wandors she took my forearm with a clawlike grip, unexpected given the plumpness of her hand, and insisted that we come in for tea. “You were a friend of Ridley’s, weren’t you?
the young woman beside her on the assembly line, in a few broken words and the language of gestures, proposed flight, Maria did not hesitate. The woman was Romanian, from the countryside, and built as though she ought to have been zaftig; but the years of privation had rendered her big-boned and gaunt. Her wrists and ankles bulged like vast bolts. Her face was still round as a plate, her skin without pores, and her eyes were very pale, the color of clear water. Her dark hair, which ought, too, to