Lauren Kelly is ... well, someone else. Lauren Kelly, as is stated
on the review copy of TAKE ME, TAKE ME WITH YOU, is a pseudonym for
a bestselling and award-winning author. I thought I knew at various
points who it might be --- Joan Didion? Joyce Carol Oates? --- but
those concerns were ultimately overridden by the story contained
within and the craftsmanship with which it is told.
TAKE ME, TAKE ME WITH YOU bounces back and forth in time between
1993, the novel's present, and 1970 and 1971. The story concerns
Lara Quade, a physically and emotionally damaged young woman who is
an assistant at the Institute for Semiotics, Aesthetics, and
Cultural Research at Princeton University. Lara's predictable life
is dramatically disturbed when she receives a ticket to a chamber
music concert from an anonymous benefactor and finds herself seated
next to Zedrick Dewe, who himself is also the apparent beneficiary
of a ticket from an unknown donor.
Quade, vaguely reminded by Dewe of her estranged brother, is
unconsciously drawn to Dewe, going so far as to invite him back to
her apartment --- a brazen act for her --- only to ultimately
rebuff him. Dewe becomes violent in reaction to the rejection
before finally leaving. Quade subsequently becomes aware that Dewe
is stalking her and takes matters into her own hands. Quade, the
pursued, becomes the pursuer. Her quest returns her to her
childhood home and the past that left her physically scarred and
emotionally empty. Quade discovers the reason for Dewe's obsession
with her, and with it the certain knowledge that all and everything
she knew about her past is wrong. The results, from the beginning
to the end, are shocking.
The conclusion of TAKE ME, TAKE ME WITH YOU is haunting in its
ambiguity. While the novel is complete in itself, there are
questions --- one, in particular --- left unanswered, which might
indicate that more novels concerning Quade and her family are in
the offing. Quade is a disturbing protagonist who will remind you
of at least a couple of people with whom you have a nodding
acquaintance but not a friendship, I guarantee. Yet one is left at
the conclusion of TAKE ME, TAKE ME WITH YOU with the desire to know
her better, to learn what happens to her at the end of the book.
The image that kept coming to me while reading this work, and stays
with me even now, is that of the Munch painting "The Scream." You
will hear it, and see it as well. Recommended.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011