Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Instances of the Number 3” as Want to Read:
Instances of the Number 3
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Instances of the Number 3

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  555 Ratings  ·  58 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Instances of the Number 3, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Instances of the Number 3

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 874)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Lucinda
Jul 05, 2012 Lucinda rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 15, 2013 Jeanne rated it liked it
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
May 31, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2014 Martin Chambers rated it it was ok
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
Dereka
Mar 14, 2014 Dereka rated it liked it
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?
Cecily
Aug 01, 2008 Cecily rated it really liked it
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.

Sandy
Nov 03, 2014 Sandy rated it liked it
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
Jan 06, 2010 Veronica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mooched, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samantha
Struggled to get invested in this but it's an easy enough read to see it through to the end. I didn't like the omniscient narrator who jumped around into people's heads without ever really making the most of it. Ditto the ghost. All the literary allusions felt like someone irritating showing off their English A level. Moderately enjoyable as a story but that was about it.
Robyn
Jan 17, 2009 Robyn rated it did not like it
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
Christy Willis
The idea that the number three is always in flux is an odd one. This book takes you on an adventure through the eyes of a dead man, a widow, a mistress, and any more people who create a web of realationships. I enjoyed it in the end, and learned more about how to look at things in real life.
Jenn
Dec 29, 2015 Jenn rated it it was ok
Vickers has a way with words, but my goodness, there was no conflict in this book! Partly owing to the main characters' mealy-mouthed passivity, and partly owing to the fact that there was very little story to tell, this book did nothing for me.
Kathleen Dixon
Nov 08, 2013 Kathleen Dixon rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
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
Tamara Santos
Jul 25, 2016 Tamara Santos rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-book
I liked the general premise of the book and the relationship between the wife and mistress. Did not feel drawn in by any of the characters and annoyed with the appearance of the dead husband.

I will not choose to read this author again, did not care for the writing style. Rambling, esoteric, disjointed.
Rebecca
Aug 01, 2013 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
JenniferB
Not as good as her previous book. Story too ambitions and bit messy
Miette
Apr 13, 2010 Miette rated it liked it
Shelves: bega-library, 2010
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
Dana
Mar 12, 2016 Dana rated it it was amazing
My very favourite of her books - brilliant
Sophie Wainwright
May 11, 2013 Sophie Wainwright rated it liked it
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
Feb 10, 2012 Haven rated it really liked it
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
Sep 08, 2011 Suzie Grogan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2008 jessica rated it it was ok
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
Mar 06, 2014 Christopher Everest rated it really liked it
A triangle is an interesting shape. This book is an interesting book. I didn't enjoy it though.
Jackie
Dec 30, 2007 Jackie rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2007 Catherine rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2009 Chel rated it it was ok
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
Jul 13, 2011 Eliza rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2011 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 29 30 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Judgment Day
  • Uncle's Story (Contemporary Pacific Literature)
  • Dearest Cousin Jane
  • Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India
  • The Antipodeans
  • With a Daughter's Eye
  • The Story of You
  • Enderby's Dark Lady
  • The View from Here
  • Other People's Trades
  • Wanderlust: Real-Life Tales of Adventure and Romance
  • The Lady and the Chocolate
  • The Deposition of Father McGreevy
  • Bethlehem Road Murder (Michael Ohayon, #5)
  • The Carpathians
  • By a Lady: Being the Adventures of an Enlightened American in Jane Austen's England
  • In a Land of Plenty
  • Selkirk's Island: The True and Strange Adventures of the Real Robinson Crusoe
74648
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...

Share This Book