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Instances of the Number 3
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Instances of the Number 3

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  459 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Following the death of Peter Hansome, his wife Bridget is contacted by Frances Slater, her late-husband’s mistress. Though the two are from opposite sides of London and meet under the least desirable circumstances, the women become close friends. In a subtly wrought turn of events, Bridget and Frances discover that they have in common what is important to them most: their...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Picador (first published 2001)
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Stephanie
This review originally appeared at www.readinasinglesitting.com

When Peter Hansome dies in a car accident, a number of carefully concealed–or perhaps simply wilfully ignored–truths bubble to the surface. Bridget Hansome, Peter’s widow, is contacted shortly after by Frances Slater, Peter’s long-time mistress, who asks whether she might attend his funeral.

If the authorial pen for this narrative were being wielded by anyone else, this story would veer into flagrant tumult, but in the hands of acclai...more
Lucinda
The highly acclaimed author of ‘Miss Garnet’s angel’ has written another astounding novel to add to an already prized collection, which is both stylish and compelling. If the eye-catching, striking front cover doesn’t capture your imagination then the storyline certainly will, that shows the three graces from ‘La Primavera’ by Sandro Botticelli a beautiful painting from Florence. This novel stood out distinctively by the effortless exactness and luminous, realistic perception by a writer who is...more
Jeanne
The book was not what I expected it to be, much subdued, perhaps that's the difference between British and American mentalities. Everything happening beneath the surface, between the lines, much unsaid, and people making decisions based on independant thought rather than codependant emotions. It didn't sweep me away but it was an interestng and worthwhile read. I particularly enjoyed the literary allusions to Donne and Yeats and oh yes, Shakespeare. But really, Hamlet? The story did not go where...more
Suzanne
After Peter is killed , his mistress and wife are drawn together by his memories (and his ghost). As secrets of his past life are uncovered, these unlikely friends find their lives enriched by neighbors, co workers and eventually Peter's newborn daughter in a web of extended family neither woman could have envisioned. Understated and wise, this very British drawing room novel reminds me of Penelope Lively, in its wit and language.
Martin Chambers
A friend who is in a book club once told me he had calculated that, for the rest of his life, he will read only another 100 books. It is an interesting thing, to contemplate like that how fast you read (he is a slow reader and reads five or six books a year) and what it raises is, if this book was one of your last 100, would you read it? Our time on this Earth is precious.

That I finished Instances of the Number 3, by Salley Vickers, is perhaps more about me and my bastardly need to complete tha...more
Sandy
I've been remembering this book time and again for ages but absolutley could not remember the title or author... then, the other day, I picked up another Salley Vickers book and this title was mentioned on the back. Wow! Found it finally! It is an interesting book. Worth a read.... 9/2014 - It is now years later and I've picked up another Salley Vickers book - The Cleaner of Chatres... However, while I remember the title of the Instances of the Number 3, I remember nothing about it and clearly d...more
Veronica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robyn
Throughout my reading of this book I fought the feeling that I didn't want to finish it, but kept at it in the hope that something interesting would come of it. This did not happen. The premise is that 3 is an unstable number (the holy trinity aside) and circumstances in our lives involving 3 people are to be especially complicated. The trinity in this book is the wife, mistress and favored prostitute of a dead man. This may sound interesting, but the story is quite dull and its telling often li...more
Dereka
I thought the writing was good and the characterizations sometimes insightful, but I labored to finish the book (and did finish it!). Am I becoming so habituated to audio books that I can no longer read?
Kathleen Dixon
This is a delightful look at 3 people who were intimately connected with Peter, a rather forlorn character who was killed in a car accident. Bridget, the wife, and Frances, the mistress, both new about and accepted the existence of the other, but the 3rd person, Zahin, a young immigrant from Iran, while clearly knowing Peter quite well, is somewhat of a mystery. As these three characters get to know each other better, we are also led into their developing relationships with some others - Painter...more
Rebecca
I liked this book more while reading it than in retrospect.

The language is charming, and I very much enjoyed spending time in the company of the characters. They were interesting people, drawn with great insight. There are flashes of wry humor and a certain warmth throughout.

The ending kind of peters out, though, and the big surprise is something I figured out less than halfway through the book. (Perhaps we were supposed to? The reveal itself is almost anticlimactic.) And there are certain logis...more
Miette
Not as good as Mr Golightly but still an enjoyable read. I would have been more engaged with Bridget and Frances if I'd had a better understanding of why they loved Peter. Or is that the point ? - he really wasn't all that wonderful but fulfilled their needs. The character I liked the most was the artist Frances worked with - unconventional, funny...
Not sure if the ghost thing really added much for me - but sometimes I think my mood when I read a book can really influence my opinion so a reading...more
Sophie Wainwright
Engrossing and unusual take on the dynamic of a husband, wife and his mistress, after he has died. I really liked the small passages at the end of some of the chapters, written from Peter's after-life perspective, and I thought there could have been more of this if anything as I wanted to know more about his state of mind. The two women were portrayed well as two distinct and quite different characters. The fact that they didn't feel more jealousy of one another was the only thing that for me, d...more
Haven
just finished this book - less than five minutes ago - and I'm not sure what I think of it. One hand it had the dreaded 'everyone lives happily ever after' ending and at times it was very trite. Vicker's language, however, is gorgeous and her usage of poetry & Shakespearean literature adds depth to the book. The characters are believable and the story is evocative. The book reminds of me Alice Hoffman's work quite a bit, just without the depth. I highly recommend it, however, to poetry &...more
Suzie Grogan
This is a book I would heartily recommend as an intelligent holiday read. The basic story is simple but the psychological insight is acute - unsurprising bearing in mind Ms Vickers was a psychoanalyst for some years.

I hate the cover though. More than one person thought it made the book look dated (which it certainly isn't - quite the opposite) and not a little throwaway, which does the book an injustice. A small thing perhaps but I would want to encourage more people to take this off the shelves...more
jessica
i was at the library in the fiction section and the spine of this book caught my eye. i took it home hoping to find all kinds of interesting information about the number 3 throughout history...

this book did not provide that. the instance of the number 3 is a love triangle. a love triangle in which the shared man appears as a ghost watching over his ladies, as they live their lives after his death.

pfft. i was hoping to give it three stars but i just could not do it.
Christopher Everest
A triangle is an interesting shape. This book is an interesting book. I didn't enjoy it though.
Jackie
I picked this up after reading Sally Vicker's The Other Side of You, but I enjoyed this one more. Some readers may be a little put off by the British attitudes toward sex and marital fidelity, but otherwise, I found this to be a well-written novel about the complexities of human beings and relationships. The supernatural element in the novel was a nice touch--enough to add some interest without detracting from the main focus.
Catherine
This is the second book I've read by Vickers and while I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, I appreciate the depth of the messages she delivers in her novels.

Her characters are always rich, complex and very human. And her gods, angels and saints get the same treatment.

An excellent book pondering the blurry lines of life and death and getting on with them both.
Alison Condliffe
I like Sally vickers as an author which is why I persevered with this book. A clever idea, for a wife and mistress to get to know each other after the death of the male, however, nothing really happened until the last 100 pages. I was tempted to let it go except that it was a Vickers book. Would not recommend.
Alison
Sep 03, 2013 Alison added it
rather too clever this. widow befriends husband's mistress after his death, plus other arty types. and a transvestite prostitute liver. lots of poetic-esp Shakespeare -quotations and arch remarks. story itself on one level and then lots of other stuff about relationships -in 3s. did not like the people !
Chel Hartrick
Dymocks
Story about Briget, widowed by Peter, Zahin her Iranian house guest and Peter's ex lover, Frances.

Brigit is aware of her late husband's presence. She forms a friendship with Frances, a love - hate relationship.

An easy read, shades of a Maeve Binchy novel. Didn't really go anywhere.
Eliza
I randomly found this on the Literature floor of my school's library, thought the title was intriguing, and decided I'd see what it was all about. Boring. Never got interesting. And the whole ghost thing was just weird, as well as the mistress & wife becoming very good friends.
Karen
Well written but I couldn't really see the point the author was trying to make, and the 'cross dressing' bit was too easily rumbled by the reader early on - a bit like Shakespeare's Portia donning a pair of trousers and 'fooling' everyone but the audience. Unbelievable I suppose
Sarah
Fantastic! This book was unpredictable; unlike most books that foreshadow or have obvious plot lines, I found myself surprised again and again by what unfolded next. There were many great quotes throughout. This book was full of bits of wisdom.
Gill
loved this - the first Sally Vickers book I read. I now chase down her latest novels to read. I love her writing, her research, her application to the arts and her psychology. All of this, all wound up together romantically. My favourite things.
Kristin
A very different sort of story than I usually read. The pacing was quite slow and methodical, but not uninteresting. I was a little thrown by the direction that the book took towards the end, but I still found in enjoyable overall.
Evangeline
Very good book. Gives new meaning to the phrase Love Triangle.
It develops the characters slowly, and you really grow to love them. Two women in a difficult circumstance form an unlikely friendship.
Cecily
Fascinating and clever (despite the irritation of ghostly visits) story of widow and mistress befriending each other. Poignant in places, but never mawkish. Doesn't go for the obvious and easy ending.

Darlene
Rippling triangles, shades of "Hamlet," the life cycle of sin, the faces of love. This novel is about an assortment of Londoners on the continuum of human connections.
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Salley Vickers was born in Liverpool, the home of her mother, and grew up as the child of parents in the British Communist Party. She won a state scholarship to St Paul’s Girl’s School and went on to read English at Newnham College Cambridge.

She has worked, variously, as a cleaner, a dancer, an artist’s model, a teacher of children with special needs, a university teacher of literature, and a psy...more
More about Salley Vickers...
Miss Garnet's Angel The Other Side of You The Cleaner of Chartres Mr Golightly's Holiday Where Three Roads Meet: The Myth of Oedipus (Canongate Myths)

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