The second volume of Bedford’s fictional memoirs uses present tense flash imagery, a focusing of the craft since The Legacy. The dense texture and pointillist style create the same challenge. Bedford hits her stride as a highbrow femme de lettres, but like a jigsaw, this novel requires attentive reading to put it together.
Jigsaw has a central, compelling story. It’s about Jewish Rosie and her secret love affair with an English judge, again a personal affair with public ramifications. Billi is the sympathetic cupid of their relationship. She divides her time between England and the south of France, a literary set and an arty set. One thing a mother doesn’t need is a child with total recall. Billi conveys a sense of adventure tinged with insecurity. Her mother marries young Alessandro and they embark on a career redecorating villas.
By age eighteen, Billi spends all her time with older, bookish friends, comparing a bus ride to le Bal du Comte d’Orgel, as they attend a play by Marcel Pagnol. After a wild party, Billi raises the stakes by falling in love. Like her characters, she is ennobled by the sacrifice.