Late Connections

Written by Aileen La Tourette
Review by Susanne Dunlap

Annie is a consummately talented seamstress working in early 20th-century Paris who possesses the ability not only to dress her clients beautifully, but also to let them escape from their troubled lives in her garret atelier. But there is more to Annie than meets the eye. At the beginning, she welcomes Madame Gilles de la Tourette, the wife of a famous psychiatrist, who treats patients at the renowned Salpêtrière—the lunatic asylum until recently presided over by the famous Charcot, mentor of la Tourette and former teacher of the renegade Sigmund Freud.

We discover that Annie’s interest in Marie de la Tourette extends beyond her wardrobe, to the wish to confront her psychiatrist husband and call him to account as one of the male physicians who treated her badly at La Salpêtrière.

Beautifully written and full of luscious descriptive detail, Late Connections paints a vivid picture of that volatile time in the history of psychiatry. La Tourette creates a magnificent and complex character in Annie, with her troubled past and her desire for retribution and absolution. Her talents as a seamstress lead her to Chanel’s atelier in the seaside resort of Deauville, and ultimately to her ability to accept who she is and what she has done.

Although the ending forgoes drama to give us a glimpse of the imagined psyche of Freud, this novel is ultimately a satisfying read.