978-0-7862-4492-8 / 9780786244928

Instances of the Number 3


Publisher:Thorndike Press



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About the book:

Salley Vickers' novel Instances of the Number Three is set in London and Shropshire. It describes the relationship between a dead man, his wife and his mistresses and is illuminated by philosophical ponderings on Hamlet and his ghost, and the poetry of Dante, Gerald Manley Hopkins and John Donne. Peter Hansome is the dead husband who walks through the pages of the novel, appearing to his wife Bridget in "his old tweed jacket and cords. He was, in fact, exactly, but without the disfiguring cuts and bruises of the accident, as she had seen him last--in his coffin. "To come to terms with his life and death, literature-loving Bridget makes friends with his mistress, Francis, an ex-artists' model: "She ... had a capacity for stillness and the kind of body which reflects planes of light." But as the omniscient narrator says:

This is not an account of feminine jealousy, or even revenge, instead its a story of negotiation and discovery as the characters orbit each other like little planets.
Vickers' prose style is witty, literary and decorous, her musing on the instances of the number three take in purgatory, heaven and hell; the eternal lovers triangle and the trinity (memorably described as the "different flavours of a Neapolitan ice"). The book is a controlled meditation on personal identity, passion and art, where emotions are analysed and reconciled. Sally Vickers' trick is to keep you interested in the hearts and lives of the characters as her novel of ideas gently unfurls.

This is a fine successor to Vickers' hugely successful debut novel, Miss Garnett's Angel, a subtle story of an older woman's emotional epiphany set in contemporary Venice. --Eithne Farry

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