I started this book under the mistaken impression that the Great House was one belonging to the British gentry in Ireland. Far from it. Parts of the story are set in London, New York, Chile and Jerusalem – but not Ireland.
There are four complex separate stories and three narrators, all linked together by a large old desk, with 19 drawers, belonging at the beginning of the book, to a Chilean poet. It had been plundered by the Nazis in Budapest during WWII.
In between it had been given to the poet by a writer who came out of Germany with the kinder-transport.
The poet leaves it, temporarily he thinks, with another writer, who has it for many years.
Meanwhile, an Antiques dealer living in Jerusalem is searching for it. He remembers it from his father’s study.
The writing is dense and challenging. We read for a long time before the stories begin to tie together. But it’s worthwhile – the kind of book that haunts one’s memory.