Armanda feels like she takes on her sister’s life. She marries Lidy’s widowed husband and becomes the only mother her young niece ever knows. With a quiet grudge she suffers the slings and arrows of events she thinks of as her sister’s, especially the husband’s unfaithfulness and divorce. She does, however, become very close to her adoptive daughter. Her father becomes ill and has a brush with death, during which time Lidy goes unacknowledged. He survives, however, and becomes a near-stranger – a doctor who won’t listen to medical advice, a man-about-town who carries a sudden amount of extra girth. I think the author includes this brief episode to contrast with Armanda’s all-too-faithful adherence to Lidy’s purported life. There may be other purposes at work, but they escape me just now. The sisters achieve a fanciful rapprochement near the end of Armanda's life, and some readers may find it helpful to wrapping up the strands; for me it went in the direction of something too pat and tidy.
“The Storm” is a highly worthy piece of fiction. The unobtrusive translation from the Dutch by Carol Brown Janeway serves it in a highly effective way – it reads very naturally. A combination of harrowing, deadly detail and a fine portrait of guilt and ambivalence – all in all a heady and unique combination.