Hart, Josephine. Damage. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991.
Damage was on my list as a Father’s Day read, if you can believe it. I read it over two lunch breaks. Some father! Told from the point of view of a doctor turned politician who has an affair with his son’s girlfriend-turned-fiancee. What makes this (short, only 200 or so pages) story so intoxicating is the slow descent into hell this man willingly makes. When he first introduces us to his life he had been a well-to-do man who has a seemingly perfect family. Two smart and beautiful adult children, Martyn and Sally, a gorgeous wife Ingrid and a stable, well respected career. He does not deny that he had a good life…pre-Anna, his son’s girlfriend. Then he meets Anna and all hell breaks loose in a slow unraveling sort of way. Inexplicably there is an instant attraction between the two of them and an affair ignites abruptly. While the physical relationship is spontaneous the mental obsession builds gradually until it is all consuming…for both of them.
There is a sense of foreshadowing, a warning of sorts in the line “Can’t you sense, smell, taste disaster waiting in the corners of the house?” (p 36).
Anna’s explanation as to why she is the way she is, “I have been damaged. Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive” (p 42) is probably the most often quoted in reviews.
Book Trivia: Damage was made into a movie in 1992 starring Jeremy Irons. Yet another one I haven’t seen.
Author Fact: Josephine Hart died of cancer in 2011.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Fathers and Sons” (p 85).