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Word Count: 620
The dream of a cigarette packetLuccaJens Christian Grondahltrans Anne Born378pp CanongateThe one moment of high drama in Grondahls otherwise scrupulously restrained novel occurs on the first page a beautiful young actress Lucca Montale is seriously injured in a motorway collision and loses her sight as a result This traumatic event is the starting point for an account of everything which led up to it an emotional history which sets out to show the interconnectedness as well as the randomness of lives and the way that seemingly inconsequential acts can have far-reaching consequencesInitially the details of Luccas story emerge only in fragments pieced together by Robert the surgeon who has saved her life From this account we learn not only that Luccas marriage is on the rocks and that the reckless driving which led to her accident was precipitated by a quarrel with her husband but a good deal about Robert himself His passion for music his fondness for solitary walks along the beach and the fact that he is still getting over a failed marriage all contribute towards a subtly drawn portrait of a man whose professional altruism only reinforces his detachment from othersLater the narrative shifts to Luccas memories of her life before the accident Her marriage to Andreas a sexy but self-centred playwright is described as well as her affairs with several other men Inevitably in a novel whose central metaphors are those of blindness and sight there is a sharply visual quality to these passagesOur first glimpse of Lucca as she is swimming in the unresisting silver mirror of the sea is one of many such images connecting her with light the sunlight flashed in the drops caught in her eyelashes which also serve to underline the hidden pun in her name - that of an Italian city but also that of St Lucia the patron saint of sightLuccas life we learn has been one long flight from one lover to the
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