In an inspired restaging of Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, a young curator finds herself haunted by the legacy of her predecessor.
At the Venice Biennale, an aspiring assistant curator from the Midwest meets Bernard Augustin, the wealthy, enigmatic founder of the Nauk, a cutting-edge art museum on Cape Cod. It’s been two years since the tragic death of the Nauk’s chief curator, Augustin’s childhood friend and muse, Alena. When Augustin offers the position to our heroine (who, like du Maurier’s original, remains nameless) she dives at the chance—and quickly finds herself well out of her depth.
The Nauk echoes with phantoms of the past—a past obsessively preserved by the museum’s business manager and the rest of the staff. Their devotion to the memory of the charismatic Alena threatens to stifle the new curator’s efforts to realize her own creative vision, and her every move mires her more deeply in artistic, erotic, and emotional entanglements. When new evidence calls into question the circumstances of Alena’s death, her loyalty, integrity, and courage are put to the test, and shattering secrets surface.
Stirring and provocative, Alena is the result of a delicious visitation of one of the most popular novels of the twentieth century on a brilliant and inventive novelist of the twenty-first.
Rachel Pastan is the author of two previous novels and has won numerous prizes for her short fiction. A member of the core faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars, she is also editor-at-large for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. She lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.