All Will Be Revealed
Verena Swann mourns her late husband, Captain Theodore Swann, who died during an Arctic expedition, by channeling his spirit and acting as a medium to help others contact their deceased loved ones. Her brother-in-law, Leopold, was tasked with caring for Verena. He does so by encouraging her psychic work, even when her abilities ebb, and by cultivating her cult of overwrought clients, who leave Verena disillusioned by their gullibility.
Wheelchair-bound Augustus Auerbach is a wealthy, successful man determined to revolutionize the pornography industry through his business, Rive Gauche Photography. He caters to the “John Smiths” of the world, who rely on him to abate their hungers with increasingly innovative exotic photographs.
These two damaged individuals operating in equally seedy trades meet when a skeptical Auerbach attends one of Verena’s séances. Leopold targets Auerbach as a potential mark, but Verena sees past Auerbach’s wealth and infirmity. Neither Auerbach nor Verena seems to recognize the parallel nature of their professions, but both feel a peculiar attraction.
The author’s point-of-view changes are unobtrusive as we eavesdrop on the motivations of Auerbach and Swann, the main characters, as well as of model Jane LaRue, Leopold Swann, and a “John Smith,” who puts a face on Auerbach’s previously interchangeable and anonymous customers. The corrupt culture of 1896New Yorkexposed by Auerbach’s relationship with the city officials provides historical context.
As disheartening and smutty as this novel could be, it is not. Auerbach and Verena are in their own flawed ways trying to match services with those in need. Their journey to transcend their stagnant and unfulfilling lives is one that should not be missed.