The Perpetual Ending
Kristen den Hartog
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The Perpetual Ending
Kristen Den Hartog
MacAdam/Cage Publishing
242 pages
September 2005
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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This lyrical work is layered with imagery, small fairy tales linked together by truth and a cry for understanding. Jane and Eugenie Ingrams, mirror-image twins, grow up surrounded by the magic stories their mother spins at night to lull them to sleep. The extraordinary Lucy whispers magical tales as the girls lie on their bunks in the dark, lit only by moonlight. Her fables revive old myths and create new ones, a world filled with infinite possibilities. The girls spend their days in that rarified world enjoyed by twins, sisters, best friends. Although they perfectly mirror one another, their personalities are opposites, balancing the tendency toward extremes in each.

Growing up in rural Canada, the twins live charmed lives as two halves of a whole. When their parents separate, Lucy takes the girls to Toronto, a city teeming with people and noise, where she pursues her dream of becoming an artist. Suddenly the family's standard of living has fallen drastically, and their small rooms are decorated with yard sale treasures and Lucy's paintings. Jane misses her father terribly, longing for her family to be reunited. Given the opportunity to return to Vancouver with their father, Jane's longing prevails. Eugenie unwillingly consents, a fateful decision that will ultimately haunt the Ingrams'.

Written in the form of Jane's narration to Eugenie, Jane gazes back over those early years of their childhood, reliving memories both cherished and painful. As a young woman, Jane has fallen deeply in love with Simon, a kind man who generously shares everything with her -- his dreams, his fears, his past. In exchange, Jane tells Simon lies, unable to speak of her family or explain why she is estranged from them. In partnership with Simon, Jane has written a series of fanciful fables, each containing a remnant of truth. Simon lavishly illustrates her fairy tales and the small books are published successfully. But when Jane is called home in an emergency, she leaves without Simon, without confiding to her lover about her past.

The Perpetual Ending is a story about belonging and not-belonging, of love and loss. But with painful self-examination bred of courage, redemption is possible for Jane. As she spins out fables, of Pirouette, of Millicent and the Thousand Pennies, of Dulcimer-Gossamer, the vivid images reflect Jane's unconscious quest for healing. A Pandora's box of imagination, the stories spill out like a handful of sparkling jewels, each one exquisite. Jane's own story wraps around the fables, gently protecting these small pieces of her unconscious, parables that cry to be heard, even understood.

With a gentle hand, the author guides Jane through the bottomless grief and guilt of her past in order that she may know her future. The all-too-human flaws of Kristen den Hartog's characters render them imperfect and too often blinded by thoughtlessness, but as each tale plants a small seed of hope, Jane's heart follows the road home that will open the door to forgiveness and finally, belonging.

Click here for Luan Gaines' interview with The Perpetual Ending author Kristen Den Hartog

© 2003 by Luan Gaines for Curled Up With a Good Book

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