Not only is Trompe L’Oeil a beautifully written book, it is beautiful to hold in your hand. The cover art, the folded over flaps, and the fine paper with its deckle page edges set it apart from the usual trade paperback. The people at Tin House Books have produced a lovely volume, inside and out.
And, Nancy Reisman has written a memorable story. I never tire of novels that center on family and this writer has given us a sweep of American family life following a heartbreaking tragedy in Rome.
This novel is mostly Nora’s story. We see her as a young mother and later as a woman who helps her children survive the tragedy while she navigates the rough waters of her own marriage. Nancy Reisman’s writing is poetic and it’s a pleasure to fall into its rhythms. She defines the importance of place, in this case a family home on the coast of Massachusetts. Reisman intersperses different sections of the story with detailed descriptions of art works, which reflect and echo the themes and characters.
“Trompe l’oeil,” to fool the eye, is an intriguing title. Reisman shows us what the eye can see, and she also ventures into the depths of the human heart. This is a novel that will linger long after you put it down.