Margot Mifflin
November 22, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Enchantment of Lily Dahl

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Siri Hustvedt
publisher
Henry Holt and Company
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A

Lily Dahl is a small-town waitress who dreams of launching an acting career in New York City. Her complacency is disturbed when a café customer begins quietly menacing her and she hears of an inert — possibly dead — Lily look-alike being spotted around town. The indomitable Lily unravels the mystery but first becomes entangled in the private obsessions of the variously warped townspeople and falls in love with an artist who paints them. With its dark plot and spirited protagonist, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl works as a ghost tale, romance, and coming-of-age story, but it goes deeper: Siri Hustvedt uses images of twinning to explore themes of age and youth, art and life, and truth and fiction with exquisite subtlety and control. A

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