Tante is a fictional, behind-the-scenes account of an international celebrity of the late Victorian-era whose drug of choice is popular adulation.
Mercedez von Marwitz, 48, stage name Madame Osraska, is a still-beautiful and famous pianist with a tabloid past and a strange entourage.
When a good looking barrister Gregory Jardine shows more interest in Karen Woodruff, her 24-year-old “niece” than in herself, Madame is insulted.
When Gregory proposes to Karen, Karen’s beloved Tante sees a way to get rid of an unnecessary expense and revenge herself on Gregory.
Karen is bland and almost pathologically self-effacing, but Gregory sees her as a Hans Christian Anderson heroine with braids and basket.
Gregory casts Tante as the wicked witch.
The woodcutter role falls to Mrs. Talcott, the homely American chicken farmer who has cared for Tante since birth.
At 70, “Tallie” can still sit on Tante, and literally does to rescue Karen and save the Jardine’s marriage.
Anne Douglas Sedgwick’s novel is long and uneven, the plot overly contrived, the atmosphere as murky as a Norwegian forest.
Those faults scarcely matter. The characters are riveting: I read Tante in one 10-hour block, unable to put it down even for meals.Tante by Anne Douglas Sedgwick (Mrs. Basil De Sélincourt )
1912 bestseller #9 Project Gutenberg ebook #30115 My grade: B+