Cover image for The honey wall
The honey wall
Latuchie, Karen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2004]

Physical Description:
290 pages ; 22 cm
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Nina and Tony are twenty years into a turbulent marriage-like relationship. Her world is centered at home in rural Pennsylvania: she builds intricate kinetic toys, her solitude both solace and confinement. He is a painter, in New York much of the time. Bill, the ailing caretaker of a nearby farm, a virtual stranger to Nina, tells her the story of his affair with his brother's wife forty years before. In intertwining narratives, we see how Bill's troubled life unfolded, and how his story comes to obsess Nina, triggering her own memories: of fiery years with Tony, of their infidelities and ineluctable passion for each other, and of her struggle with the boundaries of the relationship--real and imagined.

Author Notes

Karen Latuchie has worked at Alfred A. Knopf for twenty-five years. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review and Southwest Review. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Honey Wall0 has a subtle sensuality that smolders just beneath the surface. 0 Gorgeous, headstrong Eva turns her back on the sacrament of marriage when she beds her husband's younger brother, Bill, within earshot of a wall where a swarm of honeybees are trapped. Bill divulges the story--four decades after the fact--to his rural Pennsylvania neighbor Nina, who's been in a rocky, "marriage-like" relationship with Tony for nearly 20 years. "I'll go mad without you," Tony says to Nina. "You go mad with me," is her reply. An accomplished story writer whose work has appeared in The Paris Review0 , Latuchie uses intertwining narratives to probe two sets of infidelities; the unfolding of Bill's troubled tale triggers Nina's memories of love and betrayal in her own life. The result is a literary page-turner that grips and won't let go. --Allison Block Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a debut novel more notable for its detailed exploration of the complexities of love than its plot, storyteller Latuchie interweaves two narratives of infidelity and desire. Nina, a mechanic turned maker of Rube Goldbergesque "contraptions," and Tony, a painter, have been together for 20 tumultuous years in a relationship fraught with passion and plagued by affairs. At their Pennsylvania cottage, she reflects on her past as Bill, an elderly neighbor, tells Nina his own tale: years ago, he slept with his brother's French wife, was exiled from the area, worked on an oil rig in Saudi Arabia, returned for his father's funeral and lusted after his niece. Bill's story proves more riveting than poor Nina's, despite her secret pregnancies and abortions and her conflicted feelings for her flirtatious lover. Through elegant flashbacks, Latuchie recounts Nina and Tony's move from New York City to Vermont, where Tony landed a teaching job. Nina hates to leave the city but "she could almost believe that the power of their attraction to each other, the brashness of it, the intense pleasures in satisfying it, could be sufficiently strong glue to keep them together if everything else failed." The glue sticks, but as the years pass Nina and Tony repeatedly reenact painful patterns, wearying for readers and characters alike. As Nina's friend, Chris finally snaps: "I don't have time to fret the minutiae of my inner life. Maybe you should try it." But if Nina's fretting grows old, her relationship with Bill intrigues: "his past offered in exchange for her mesmerized attention to the present." Agent, Sarah Burnes. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Tony is an artist, Nina an auto mechanic. Though both are New York City natives, they move to rural Vermont when Tony lands a college teaching job there. Nina feels completely out of her element and has a long, hard struggle to rearrange her thinking. Eventually, she settles in and proves to be an artist in her own right. However, life with Tony, in Vermont and later in Pennsylvania, is stormy. Bill, an elderly neighbor in Pennsylvania, invites Nina to dinner and tells her the story of his affair with his sister-in-law. Nina is shocked at the revelation yet can't get the story out of her thoughts. The two stories of love and infidelity intertwine in an intrigue that spans 50 years. In her first work, Latuchie uses well-rounded characters and a compelling story to create a vibrant picture of parallel lives, examining love, passion, dependency, and the long-term effects of a single moment in time. Recommended for public libraries.-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.