Set in contemporary Montreal, Ondine's Curse follows the attempts of Robert Strasser, a television documentary producer, to film the life of Dr. Werther Acheson, the German director of a controversial psychiatric institute. In the course of his journey through Acheson's murky past, Strasser meets Ondine, one of the institute's patients, and soon finds himself increasingly fascinated by the haunted young woman. It is Ondine who is at the heart of this powerful probe of the human psyche. A historian, she is trying to complete her own research into the death of Shawnadithit, a Beothuk Indian woman who was the last survivor of a Newfoundland tribe that was exterminated by settlers in the 1820s. But Ondine's ability to cope in the modern world is crippled by a repressed memory of violence as a witness to the Montreal Massacre in 1989 when fourteen women were slain in Canada's most shocking mass murder. Moody and macabre, Steven Manners's expressionist novel is a literary tour de force that lurches through the dementia of the twentieth century, seeking meaning behind the massacres and mayhem.
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