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An Abduction

July 8, 2012

The beginning and end of this week’s New Yorker fiction by Tessa Hadley (click here), do much to redeem the psycho-babble in the middle.

“Jane Allsop was abducted when she was fifteen, and nobody noticed. This happened a long time ago, in Surrey, in the nineteen-sixties, when parents were more careless.”

Brilliant, but the abduction disappoints.  The older boys kept her only one night and although she lost her virginity to Daniel, who promptly returned to his girlfriend’s bed, Jane was a willing, albeit disappointed, accomplice and no harm came of it – no pregnancy, no abortion, not even an infection. She turned into a conventional housewife like her mother and kept the secret forever.

The suggestion that these events could be somehow implicated in her undefined mental problems when she gets divorced in her fifties appears laughable until we finally learn that Daniel, over an equally conventional lifetime, has completely forgotten the episode. It mattered, and he has lost something.

Jim Thornton

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