Sansom’s Tudor thrillers are too tempting to stay away from and Dark Fire [London: Macmillan, 2003] lives up to expectations, indeed goes beyond them. Sansom skilfully interweaves the political and private lives of the 1540s with the imagined rediscovery of dark fire, otherwise known as Greek fire, and the sort of heart-stopping and bloody adventures that the hero, Matthew Shardlake, seems to stumble into in every chapter. Readers in this century are inevitably reminded of weapons of mass destruction and the question of whether or not they exist.
Margaret Atwood demonstrates her many talents in The Robber Bride [London: Virago, 1994] which follows the fortunes of three friends, completely different characters yet who have one thing in common, a mutual friend who has betrayed them all and then, conveniently, got herself blown up and killed in the Lebanon. They attend the funeral ceremony when a small metal canister is buried beneath a graveyard tree. But later, when the three of them meet for one of their occasional lunches at a Toronto restaurant called the ‘Toxique’; ‘Zenia returns from the dead’.
John Irving published A Widow for One Year in 1998 [Random House] so my apologies for not getting round to it sooner. It was certainly worth the wait. The novel is about sex, love and writers but not necessarily in that order. There is a fairly steady flow of sex; some undying and even some eventually requited love; and almost everyone is either a book writer or a book editor and; we must never forget them; an avid book reader. The story spans a period of nearly forty years so there is plenty time for quite a variety of different approaches to sex; sufficient time for characters to fall in love more than once or, in one case, remain in love from start to finish; and ample time for even the slowest writers to turn out several books.
What a joy to read is The Penguin Lessons [London: Michael Joseph Penguin, 2015] by Tom Michell! For me in particular, there are associations and coincidences that make it an even more fascinating read since, in several ways, our paths have crossed.