Stephan Lee
February 05, 2014 AT 05:00 AM EST

Alena

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Rachel Pastan
publisher
Riverhead Hardcover
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Pastan’s third novel casts Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca in the idiosyncratic world of contemporary art. Instead of a naive second wife, our unnamed narrator is a young curator at an avant-garde museum on Cape Cod who competes obsessively against the memory of the previous curator, Alena, who maintains a mysterious hold over the place even after her presumed death. Like a good reproduction, Alena preserves important trademarks of the original art — creepy and claustrophobic — but doesn’t feel quite inspired enough to stand on its own. B

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