On nice days the witch Sandrine, a wife and mother of two (or is it three?) canoes along the Stream of Consciousness to the outskirts of town where her friend Vienna lives on the edge of a swamp. At Hartwood portals litter the paths, big as dinner plates, but only if you have an eye for that sort of thing. Sometimes Vienna, who does, outlines them in circles of wildflowers or pastel chalk, to alert the unwary who might otherwise be whisked away. Instead, Vienna tells her, Sandrine should explore the disused upstairs bedrooms, haunted not by the ghosts of former inhabitants but by alternate worlds, one behind each of many brightly painted doors.
What kind of world is behind each door? How to pick? Behind Pomme Verte, the door she finally tries, Sandrine meets a tall young man with red hair, who may be a son she didn’t know she had. Is it possible that in the other worlds one has children who are searching for their biological mothers—just as if they had been adopted by a human and not, as it were, by another world? Only one way to find out.
“Pflug’s haunting novella is as oblique and slippery as its protagonist, Sandrine, a traveler between worlds who is first encountered returning from “astral adventures” that have left her disoriented and uncertain: her husband may be named Randy, Mike, or River, and she has either two or three children. (“Don’t forget you have a girl,” she reminds herself; “girls don’t like that, not at all.”) Sandrine worries about environmental damage and the politics of food, tries to recenter herself with her family, and confronts the unexpected ways in which the secrets and struggles of her best friend, Vienna, intersect with Sandrine’s own.”
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