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Boffito, S. (2020). The hands of gravity and chance: by Thomas H. Ogden, London, Sphinx Books, 2018, 300 pp., $16.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9781782203575. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(4):828-830.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(4):828-830

The hands of gravity and chance: by Thomas H. Ogden, London, Sphinx Books, 2018, 300 pp., $16.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9781782203575

Sara Boffito

The Hands of Gravity and Chance is a family novel; everything happens between the members of a family and the existential tension of the characters follows the complex events resulting from their ties. Following the vicissitudes of those ties keeps the reader engaged in a narrative coloured with suspense, deep empathy and the painful weight of witnessing.

The book opens with a tragic and apparently punctual and fortuitous event. It is an event of chance. A girl falls down the stairs, and goes into a coma. Her mother is at her bedside and her two older brothers stay at home with their maternal aunt. We soon realize that the father died when the girl – Catherine – was a baby. As in a play of the Comedy of Art, the five characters who appear in the first, dramatic scene – Rose (the mother), Margaret (the aunt) and Rose’s children Erin (the elder), Damien (the second) and Catherine (the youngest) – never leave the stage. The initial event brings us into the folds of those complex ties that have led and will lead the members of this family to cross the boundaries of the unthinkable, to perform actions usually inconceivable.

The reader is guided in these areas, as if immersed in the mental flow of the characters. Dignity is given to every breath, every jolt, every nuance of thought through a style that reflects a specific aspect of the psychoanalyst's ear (Ogden and Ogden 2013), of his compassion. The author never judges, but remains open to follow how events, internal and external, could have led to such extreme choices and actions.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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