“What we are doing,” Tom told his crew, “is real and not real. We are living in a world where dreams are reality and reality is dreams. In our world everything starts from a dream.”
Tom Richards was on top of the world.
He was a film director, at the top of the highest, shouting orders through a megaphone and watching his world moving under his command.
But something went wrong – a wheel moved when it shouldn’t – and he tumbled back to earth.
He was no longer a god, he was just a sixty-three year-old man with a fractured and twelve broken ribs, trapped in a hospital bed and having to watch the world move about him with no direction at all.
People swirled about him.
Nurses. Wives. Ex wives. Mistresses. Daughters.
He watched them come and go, and his film, his life seemed to be slipping from his control.
Cora, his favourite daughter, has a fractured marriage, and maybe Marigold, his less favoured daughter has too, as she has gone missing.
Tom recovers and goes back to work,but his film has changed beyond recognition and Rose, his mistress and his leading lady suggests that maybe his accident wasn’t an accident at all.
In her twentieth book, published in the nineties when she was in her eighties, Muriel Spark’s authorial voice spoke as strongly as it ever had.
The clearsightedness and the oh so subtle wit are quite wonderful.
She created a fine gallery of characters – not likeable characters but they were terribly readable – and gave them just enough plot to keep things interesting and to throw a wealth of ideas into the air.
Reality. Dreams. Redundancy …
There’s more in this 160 page book than there is in many books twice the size. It shouldn’t all work together but somehow it does.
I wouldn’t list this among my favourite Muriel Spark novels – and I’d definitely recommend reading her earlier novels before her later ones – but it’s an intriguing piece of writing.