The Memory Room, Christopher John Koch


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This novel is a psychological study of a spy, and an exploration of secrecy. It is also a study of the pathological condition known as folie a deux – the madness of two – in which two people share a common set of fantasies and delusions. Thus, although the novel has espionage as one aspect of its subject matter, its aims go far beyond those of a conventional spy story. Its three central characters all meet in their early youth in Tasmania. Vincent Austin, orphaned early, lives with an aged aunt in a suburb of Hobart. Brilliant but eccentric, with an intense inner life revolving around secrecy and espionage, he forms a friendship in early adolescence with Erika Lange, the daughter of a German migrant, who proves to have an uncannily similar inner life. Vincent has a ‘secret room’ in his aunt’s house, where they create a private world, and the condition of folie a deux begins. Their relationship is not sexual, but ritualistic – and their friendship continues in adult life. At University, Vincent’s aim is to enter Foreign Affairs – an ambition shared by his friend Derek Bradley, who is the novel’s protagonist. However, Vincent is recruited by ASIS – the Australian Secret Intelligence Service – and his dream of being a spy becomes reality. Erika becomes a journalist, and eventually enters Foreign Affairs as a press officer, serving in a number of countries overseas. She is an unusually attractive woman, and efficient at her job; but her psychic unbalance causes her to go from one disastrous love affair to another.

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Weight 400 g