Saturday, December 12, 2015

Instances of the Number 3

When working on the FutureLearn course on Hans Christian Andersen recently we were asked to consider the author's use of numbers in many of his stories, particularly the numbers 3 and 7. In the discussion on the forum this book by English novelist, Salley Vickers, was mentioned so I decided to borrow it from the library.

Peter Hansome is married to Bridget but also has a mistress, Frances. Both of the women know about the existence of the other but are not aware that Peter is on his way to visit another woman when he dies in a car accident. The book explores the lives of Bridget and Frances as they form a friendship of sorts after Peter's death. It looks at relationships and love and has as a major theme the need to know and understand oneself. Bridget loves the plays of Shakespeare and the poetry of John Donne and quotes from their writings appear throughout the novel. Frances works in a gallery and there are also references to art. The story primarily revolves around incidents during the first year after Peter's death but there are also descriptions of events that occurred before he died. Other characters appearing in the lives of the two women are Zahin -a friend of Peter's, Painter - a friend of Frances, Mickey - Bridget's neighbour and Stan - a friend of Bridget. Throughout the book there are discussions on religion (unknown to his wife, Peter had converted to Catholicism) and forgiveness. From time to time Peter's ghost appears observing the lives of the people he loved as they continue living without him.

This is a book that I wanted to continue to read. Although I worked out part of the plot before the outcome was revealed, it did not detract from my wanting to read the book to the end. I shall certainly look out for more books by Salley Vickers.

The cover of the edition of the book I read showed the Three Graces - part of the painting La Primavera by Botticelli.

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