Set against a backdrop of Rome, Renaissance artworks, and images of Mary Magdalene, Trompe l’Oeil portrays the ripple effects of a family tragedy and the ways in which its members perceive and misperceive themselves and each other.
During a vacation in Rome, the Murphy family experiences a life-altering tragedy. In the immediate aftermath, James, Nora, and their children find solace in their Massachusetts coast home, but as the years pass the weight of the loss disintegrates the increasingly fragile marriage and leaves its mark on each family member. Trompe l’Oeil seamlessly alternates among several characters’ points of view, capturing the details of their daily lives as well as their longing for connection and fear of abandonment. Through the turbulence of marriage, the challenges of parenthood, job upheavals, and calamities large and small, Trompe l’Oeil examines family legacies, the ways those legacies persist, and the ways they might be transcended. Nancy Reisman is a master of psychological acuity, creating characters who are wholly unique and yet express our own longings and anxieties. Trompe l’Oeil haunts not only with its story but also with the beauty of its insight into hopes, desires, and fears.