Ulrike Hugenot is a young pianist who arrives home to her Berlin apartment and discovers a fat envelope stuffed into her mailbox. She is astonished when she realizes that it is from her late father Gustave's Canadian lover.
"I am writing to you because my daughter has died," writes Beatrice Mann. "But this explains nothing." In the eighty pages of her letter that follow, Beatrice details her decades-long love affair with Gustave Hugenot. Grief, passion, fury, regret, fear, longing-Beatrice meticulously charts these emotions through the course of her life as she unburdens herself to the young woman she has only glimpsed a few times, many years ago. Why does she choose Ulrike as her confessor? And why now, seven years after Gustave's death?
Written with great sophistication and lyricism, Martha Baillie's The Shape I Gave You compels us to place ourselves in the roles of its complicated protagonists, to hold up and scrupulously examine our own histories, our own loves and deceits, in a new and penetrating light.