Elena Hardcover – 1 Jan 1986
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Elena Franklin never existed. She is a fictional character created by Thomas H. Cook. In this amazing book, Mr. Cook follows Elena from her birth to her death through her older brother's eyes. The premise is that Elena's biography has just been published but William, her brother, doesn't think it captures Elena's true essence, so he writes his own biography of Elena. A writer himself, he had long ago accepted the fact that his contribution to the world would merely be as a footnote in Elena's life. Elena wanted only to be true to her intelligence and at whatever cost. She realized that she missed out on passion and companionship, but she lived the life that she felt was necessary. And I think she died having peace of mind.
This is an incredible book. I was lucky enough to buy it when it was first published and this is one book that I will not lend to anyone. I've probably read ten times and I will be reading it again. It's a book to read when you are at a point in your life when you have to reassess your priorities and think about the life that you have lived. While it is not a fun book, it is ultimately uplifting.
This novel, alone in Cook's novels, has a significant problem. It is a story of an intelligent woman who understands that she is an alien in a dangerous, life threatening situation which she refuses to leave. Her reason would be more simple if she had nowhere to go and no options once she got there. However, in this case, many people have tried to help her - tried to reason with her and the narrator was desperate to marry her.
This situation is different from a Jew boarding a train in Nazi Germany - those people did not know what fate awaited them. They may have suspected, but they suspected too late. This woman knew that she was marked and still refused to leave. What she stayed behind for was a world which no longer existed. In short, the premise seemed flawed. If one knows that one is not only facing possible death, but a fate worse than death, isn't it reasonable to assume that the person would leave? I think so.