Apr 1, 2012

The archivist - Martha Cooley

The archivist: a novel - Martha Cooley

Summary: A battle of wills between Matt, a careful, orderly archivist for a private university, and Roberta, a determined young poet, over a collection of T. S. Eliot's letters, sealed by bequest until 2019, sparks an unusual friendship and reawakens painful memories of the past. A first novel. 30,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
The articulate yet restrained archivist who narrates this exceptional first novel confides, "Books never cease to astonish me," a sentiment that could easily be aroused by Cooley's resolute and somber tale. It takes great vision and verve to work with the heavily freighted materials she handles so adroitly: the terrible legacy of the Holocaust; questions of faith, conversion, and sanity; and the life and poetry of T. S. Eliot. Using Eliot's tragic first marriage, religious convictions, and abortive relationship with his confidante, Emily Hale, as a template, Cooley explores and extends his traumas through the prisms of her highly cerebral characters. Now in his sixties, Matthias takes quiet pleasure in his guardianship of a university archive that contains letters between Eliot and Hale. This invaluable correspondence is off-limits until 2019, but Roberta, an attractive poet, is determined to gain access to it and draws Matthias into a tense tango of negotiations that unfreezes painful memories of his poet-wife's suicide. Much of Cooley's unusual novel flows like a psychological thriller, and even its slow passages are moodily compelling. ((Reviewed March 15, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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