Call Me Marlowe 

Reviewed By  Janet Mawdesley       May 2, 2023


Author  Catherine de Saint Phalle

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 978-0-6455653-2-4
Publisher:         Transit Lounge
Release Date:   May 2023  


Call Me Marlowe is a delicate story about the fragility of man, of love, of mistakes and the search for an identity, a place to call home, which begins in the middle and ends in the middle of Harold’s life.

Harold lives in Melbourne above a Fish and Chip shop known as The Sea & Us. He has a room there along with Marylou, a former sex-worker, who now draws buildings on paper. He, Marylou and Verity the owner of the Fish and Chip shop and the building, form a small community; each involved with the other, delicately balancing their lives, their love and their respect for the past of each one.

Harold loves Marylou, who has a traumatic past; he is a potter of some talent, who is working on a large piece, into which he is pouring his emotions. Having been bought up by his Chez grandmother, Maruska, who told him the stories of Jan Masaryk, a man who became a martyr in the cause of a free Czechoslovakia, Harold feels almost stateless, disconnected, looking for something but he is not too sure what.

After creating what he considers is a terrible, unforgivable, mistake involving Marylou, he makes the decision to take the first plane out of Melbourne bound for Prague, to try and see if he can make some sort of sense out of his family history and his life.

There he discovers a world of wonder, family, friendship and acceptance that is both enchanting, realistic and eventually, full of joy and happiness. There can he find happiness, certainty and love; there can he eventually entice Marylou?

Somewhat fragmented to begin with Call Me Marlowe slowly evolves into a beautiful love story revolving in and around the tragic history of Czechoslovakia, modern day Australia and modern day Prague, filled with carefully crafted people who each have a story to tell.

Catherine de Saint Phalle has spun her characters from gossamer, each one somewhat mysterious, which helps hold the intimate balance between reality and deeply held fear.

Call Me Marlowe: different, delicate and captivating.