The Double Life of Liliane

The Double Life of Liliane by Lily Tuck

Tuck’s so-called double life begins with her first visit to her father in Rome. Her parents have divorced, and so commences a decade of back-and-forth parenting as her movie-producer father and her gorgeous mother send her shuttling between Italy and New York. Neither parent is strict but their quiet child does more looking and listening than misbehaving, growing to understand the foibles of each world. As she follows both families’ fates and fortunes back in time across continents and through wars, Tuck creates a vast cosmos of connections, from Berlin to Innsbruck to Italy, Tanganyika to Peru to New York City. Photographs track the war through Germany, her and her mother’s immigration, that of her aunts’ and grandmothers’, track her own coming of age as her interests flow from horses to men to scholarship, with writing the steady undercurrent of desire beneath all others. In the end, the panoply of lives and loves that she displays and illustrates is as entrancing as any novel, more inventive than most, and as accomplished a literary work as one might expect—whether it be fiction or nonfiction—from one of the best novelists of our age. – Betsy Burton