In Magnificence, Millet continues to follow the fortunes of characters introduced two books ago. In How the Dead Dream we first meet ‘T’, and unlikely capitalist hero, who ends up being lost in the jungles of Belize. In the second book, Ghost Lights, we follow the fortunes of Hal who goes out to look for him.
Finally, in Magnificence, in great psychological detail, we delve into the life of Susan, Hal’s husband. Susan blames herself for her husband’s death. Logically the blame is indirect, at best. Nevertheless, again and again she refers to herself as a murderer, to the point where, as a reader, I cannot help declaring “the lady doth protest too much.” I do not like Susan and do not sympathize with her angst. I like her boss, T, much more, but he has only a small role to play in Magnificence. I like Susan’s daughter, Casey, but again, she is a minor character.
The great plot-changer in the first half of Magnificence comes when Susan inherits a great stately home in Pasadena. Its scores of rooms are adorned with the heads of wild animals from all over the world. Susan is both haunted and entranced by these heads. They seem to have deep symbolic meaning for her. But after 136 pages, I have to ask myself, what has really HAPPENED in the book?
Reluctantly, I have to say that, for me at least, this is a BORING book.
Of course, I have only read half of it. Maybe breath-taking revelations are just around the corner. Maybe the pace picks up mightily. But honestly, Lydia Millet, how patient do you expect your readers to be?
With Magnificence I hope Millet has at least put an end to this trilogy. The first book was wonderful, the second, pretty good. But now it’s time to move on to new material.