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Salley Vickers, Copyright: Graham Hughes
Salley Vickers


2000 .|. Miss Garnet's Angel Excerpt at the Author's Homepage .|. Bookworm's Comment
2002 .|. Instances of the Number Three Excerpt at the Author's Homepage .|. Bookworm's Comment
2003 .|. Mr. Golightly's Holiday Excerpt at the Author's Homepage
2007 .|. The other Side of You
Read the interview on "Miss Garnet's Angel" at Harper Collins

Miss Garnet's Angel
"Miss Garnet's Angel" (Claassen-Verlag, Hardcover, 1st German edition, 2002, read: July 02)
"When a friend dies, Julia Garnet goes to stay in Venice where a lifetime of caution is challenged. She encounters the paintings in the local church which tell the story of Tobias and the Angel. The ancient tale of Tobias, who travels to Media unaware he is accompanied by the Archangel Raphael, unfolds alongside Julia Garnet's contemporary journey. As she unravels the story's history, Julia's own life is thrown into question for, like the shifting sea-light of Venice, nothing here is quite as it seems." (Synopsis from www.salleyvickers.com)

Miss Garnet is a cute lovable person. An old-maidish teacher with established believes and long ago thrashed out opinions. One shouldn't think that she is able to turn her world upside down. But from one day to another she decides to got to Venice. At first for six months but after being confronted with the charm of the lagoon-city she can't turn back that easily.
The people Miss Vickers meets in Venice show her a lot of new things. Among others the story of Tobit, the angel Raphael and the dog. It runs through the whole book and shows many parallels to Miss Garnets fate. Or the story of the Levanthian Camel near the Chiesa della Madonna dell'Orto which isn't written in every guidebook.

The book takes place at original settings all over town which one is able to recognize because of their great descriptions. The author captures the atmosphere of the places in detail. In the bookjacket is a map where the scenes are marked. On my next visit to Venice I'll definitely try to find some of these places to show them here. In any case one becomes curious about the places one hasn't discovered yet. If it's Campo dell'Angelo Raffaele, the Arsenale or the Piazza San Marco the book describes Venice from the point of view of a tourist who likes to be a local. It isn't disguised that you would be a stranger at first. But the Venetians would definitely give you a chance.
A real highlight, by the way, is the authors website which still is quite personal and which contains some book-recommendations Ms. Vickers likes to share.
[Dorothée Büttgen, August 02]

Instances of the Number 3
"Instances of the Number 3" (Fourth Estate, Paperback, 2nd edition, 2001, read: September 02)
"When Peter Hansome dies in a car crash he leaves behind a wife and a mistress - but as these women confront their loss death becomes not an end but a beginning. Witty, ironical, Instances of the Number 3 explores the frontiers of life and death and the enticing possibilities of forgiveness."

I was rather disappointed by this book. I liked the first novel by Salley Vickers "Miss Garnet's Angel" very much (see above) and it was only natural to look for the second one by the author right after that. The story doesn't sound bad: Wife and mistress meet after the sudden death of their husband/lover and together get over his death. And all this written "witty, ironical" as the cover said. That's what I expected.
To cut it short: The story is boring, the mental leaps hard to follow and the language is very complicated and tiring. One long sentence comes after the other and in the middle of a paragraph the author suddenly jumps to another storyline which should have something to do with the first but you have to figure that out for yourself. Therefore no story is really told completely because it's always interrupted by another subplot. Did I have these difficulties because I've read "Miss Garnet" in German and "Instances" in English? I can't really think so. But if it is so the translator of "Miss Garnet" has done the author a real favor.
Apart from the language and the jumps in the storyline the relationship between the two women wasn't what I had thought it would be. Both were rather cold and one couldn't put oneself in their place. One can't really say that they came over Peters death 'together'. They are characters without souls ... in contrast to Miss Garnet who was just lovable because of her weirdness and originality.
[Dorothée Büttgen, October 02]

More great Reviews at Bookworm's Lair:

Alessandro Baricco, Novecento     Fannie Flagg, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl     Petra Reski, Palazzo Dario

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