The Lion House by Marjorie Lee
New York : Rinehart & Company, 1959. First Edition. Hardcover. 254 pages ; 21 cm. $3.50 dust jacket. Pages toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
The Lion House is an outrageous novel. It is an exquisitely evil one. There has been no first novel like it for many years.
It is a story of suburbanites. They are people of charm, warmth and brilliance; yet they are caught, in spite of themselves, in a web of love and hate.
The central figure is Frannie: a golden girl—willful, spoiled and hopelessly appealing. Through her relationship with her husband, and theirs with another couple, the novel traces the actions and influences of these four people one upon the other against a background of mutual friends. All live in an atmosphere of extreme sophistication. They are, if anything, overcivilized. But beneath the polished surface of their days and ways, the appalled and fascinated reader senses the undercurrent of a hot relentless river emotional capacity.
The evil of THE LION HOUSE is not based in sex per se; but rather, more totally, in a strange and misbegotten sexuality.
One day Frannie, a writer, takes her children to the zoo, and when she returns she hurriedly jots down the following impression: "Compared with other houses in a menagerie (those with shrieking birds or jabbering monkeys, for instance) the Lion House, while holding within it the most murderous forces of hostility, is the house which appears, on the surface, to be truly at peace."
Such is the primary theme of the book; and, with astonishing talent and subtlety, the author conveys to the reader exactly what terrifying forces do lurk beneath the seeming peace of psychological lion houses—in suburban New York, or anywhere; and, to one degree or another, within us all.
MARJORIE LEE was born on Long Island, brought up in New York City, and educated at Sarah Lawrence College. Before her marriage, she was a member of the editorial staff of a national woman's magazine, and her poems and short stories have appeared both here w^^toad. Mrs. Lee lives with her husband and five children in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, where she is currently at work on her second novel.
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