The Powers of Charlotte

Available as Paperback, Hardcover



From Publishers Weekly: As an infant, Charlotte Cohen is left in New York by her mother Mara, who has joined her husband George, a soldier in the Spanish Civil War. The couple is killed, Charlotte is taken in by George’s brother Buck and his wife Rose, the situation giving rise to Charlotte’s lifelong doubts about her abandonment and paternity (George or Buck?). Lazarre’s (Some Kind of Innocence) third novel charts Charlotte’s ever-active imaginationevinced through erotic girlhood fantasies, and painting and writing. The effort ultimately founders under the weight of history and political rhetoric, a 40-year time span, overanalyzing by Charlotte’s therapist husband Alex and Charlotte’s tiresome obsession with her parents. Lazarre’s passion runs awry in overwritten prose (“the past came back like an avalanche of volcanic ash, a mud river cascading down the slopes of their mountain peak”) and careless minutiae. (To demonstrate George’s primal creative power, Lazarre has him renaming his brother and wife. Miriam becomes Mara because “you are not a bitter sea, but simply a seawild, passionate and strong.” In a mistake that reverberates throughout the novel, Lazarre has appropriated the wrong half of the word: “mara” is Hebrew for bitter.) Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

  • Pages: 316
  • Published: November 1987


“There is a marvelous amplitude, a sensual, moral, caring dimension, a dense substance to this life embracing novel. As expected of the author of the pioneering Mother Knot, mothering, children, are present with immediacy, depth, truth, almost no other writers summon, but this is far more. Those children, the young, the ripening, the coming to be old, the successor young are evoked for us – as is Charlotte herself – through the saga of her erotic, emotional, intellectual artist-being – a wonderful achievement. Set into the changing societal context bordered by mystery, beauty and death, the result is rare to come out of literature; tenderness for life, respect for human beings – power indeed.”
Tillie Olsen

“A Powerful novel containing most of the things most women care about most.”
New Directions for Women

“Lazarre weaves her drama of family relations with a focus on art and sexuality, and all the messy ambiguities that characterize real life.”
Kirkus Review

“A beautifully written tour de force of a novel in the spirit of Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood.”
American Book Review