The Radiant Way
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A novel in which three women - Liz, Alix and Esther - are among the most brilliant of their generation, and to these gifted women, fresh from Cambridge in the 1950s, the world offers its riches. From the author of A NATURAL CURIOSITY and THE GATES OF IVORY.
she said: ‘Sebastian.’ She called to him across the garden. The wind moaned in the double glazing. On the walls, bare landscapes of eternal autumn glimmered, pale faces of pale girls stared sadly. Alix sobbed into her handkerchief. ‘It’s so dark,’ said Deborah Manning, crossly, irritably. ‘I’ve always hated this time of year. The dark ditch of the year. And now it’s going to be 1984. I suppose we’ll get used to its being 1984? It seems improbable. Put on the lights, Alix, would you? Let’s have a
was meant?’ ‘Well, what does Saint Agatha mean, come to that?’ asked Alix. ‘A good point,’ said Esther. ‘I must say, considered historically which by me it rarely is, the sado-masochistic content of Christian iconography is really rather startling. Here, have a look at this . . .,’ and she delved in a pile of art books, and came up with Painting in Naples: from Caravaggio to Giordano, which she passed to Alix, open at Guarino’s Saint Agatha. The saint suggestively clutched to her concealed but
various other large volumes, and abstracted her own Crivelli catalogue. ‘Is this the kind of thing you mean?’ She pointed at a Pietà, where the incision in Christ’s bosom resembled a little open mouth, with lips; a little mouth, about to speak. Or a vagina. Yes, decided Alix, it more closely resembled a vagina. A wounded vagina, about to speak. Vagina implorans. ‘Yes,’ said Alix. ‘Pretty odd, isn’t it?’ ‘I suppose it is,’ said Esther. Alix gulped at her whisky. ‘I can’t ring the AA now
was action. A man who appeared to possess authority descended upon Alix and Polly, full of questions, assurances, respects: meekly Alix, recognizing hierarchy, handed over the keys, told her story of the previous day. Yes, she could identify the victim. Yes, she knew her well. Yes, she had seen her alive the day before. Where? Here in Lykewake Gardens. Which number? Could she tell them precisely where, when, why? Polly again suggested caution, spoke of solicitors, but Alix, armoured by innocence,
tonight?’ she said. ‘You’ve kept your own plans very dark,’ said Ivan. ‘Ah well, you know me,’ she said, knowing nothing. ‘I can’t say I’m surprised,’ said Ivan. ‘I think you two stuck it out pretty well, in the circumstances. How long has it been? Twenty years?’ The utterly expected, the utterly unexpected, can they be the same thing, she wondered. ‘Your name,’ Ivan continued, ‘has been linked with Gabriel Denham’s, but I don’t even see him here tonight.’ She stood there: he stared at her.