A house divided

A Spy In The House Of Love

Sabina is in trouble. Psychologically speaking, that is. Practically speaking, her string of assignations is entirely clandestine; none of her partners, not even long-term Alan, know of the others' existence. But the balancing act she must perform every day, covering her tracks like A Spy In The House Of Love, is tearing her apart, and she reluctantly entangles herself with a professional lie detector in order to resolve her personality into a whole woman.

Sabina is, in fact, a neurotic. With the wilfulness of a psychopath she pushes herself into affair after pointless affair with one-dimensional archetypes ranging from the tanned Don Juan to the generically troubled air-force pilot, while all the time Reliable Alan acts like the short, balding foil to her Benny Hill antics. With intermittent and unreliable symbolism A Spy In The House Of Love gives the lie to its heroine's claims, and ultimately becomes an analysis of a woman who is less the representative of all women and more the sum of their fears.

Sabina may well be Anaïs Nin's idea of the Everywoman. Nin tries to build universal truths with the components of her characters' problems, and one can often (painfully) see the mortar being laid around the cornerstone of that bloody Alan. But it feels like random words, or sometimes sentences, or sometimes even paragraphs, have been omitted out of a perverse desire to sound Delphic. In this quasi-editorial massacre, that smears to unintelligibility the narrative in A Spy In The House Of Love, we are no longer able to detect any plans Nin might have had outside of becoming a bargain-basement Milan Kundera.