Unlikely Friends


Before I move on to the two NEW books that I bought last week I should first clear up previous reading. I think I mentioned that my “baby sister” is doing an MA in creative writing. Someone suggested that her writing was similar in vein to the writing of Anita Shreve and so I did my sisterly duty of rounding up almost all AS’s works and dipping into them before handing them over in the interest of Literature.

Light on Snow was a huge success. I understand that it is one of, if not the latest of her works. At a pinch it could slide into my category of “Unlikely Friends”. Completely overbalanced by the death of his wife and baby, a father takes his surviving child to live at the extreme edge of a small town far away from his former life as an architect in the big city. A single event and the arrival of one person turn their lives upside down again. Replete from a good read I sat down to tuck into another of AS’s offerings. I managed to finish that course but by the time I started on the third I couldn’t be bothered. There wasn’t anything that really grabbed me. Remembering why I had started on this Shreve Fest I couldn’t even begin to imagine how someone could compare my sister’s writing to this.

Other people wax lyrical about Shreve’s writing so don’t be put off by me. I can be very perverse. I persevered with the infamous Pinkerton’s Sister when all around me were abandoning ship at a rate of knots.

These links will give you an idea what others thought:



After my failed Shreve Fest I picked up “Instances of the Number Three” instances1.jpg by Salley Vickers, possibly best known for “Miss Garnett’s Angel”. This is a book which can wear the tag “unlikely friends” with pride. Who would imagine that the death of a man would bring his wife and mistress together? This is not the only unlikely friendship in this book. You will have to read it to discover more. Peter’s widow, Bridget has had a lifelong love affair with literature, especially Shakespeare, and especially Hamlet which was a delightful coincidence because “my little darling” was desperately revising good old H as I read IofNT. John Donne gets more than a passing mention too.

Whether intentional or not, the velcro effect quite often occurs in the transition from one book to the next. Bridget & Frances meet Zahin who claims to have known Peter. He is an exotic flower in this otherwise typically English setting. My geography was never that good and I could easly have assumed that Zahin, from Iran was the same character as Cherif who arrives on Miss Webster’s doorstep one dark night, straight from North Africa, in “Miss Webster and Cherif” by Patricia Duncker. Are these characters angels sent from another dimension to help those in need? Even the young woman in Light on Snow could be considered so as she opens up the previously locked lives of the father and daughter.

These books set me thinking about unlikely friends.

Miss Pettigrew and Miss LaFosse in “Miss Pettigree Lives for a Day” by Winifred Watson which we can look forward to in its film version soon.

Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico, in which a London charwoman could be seen perhaps more like a discreet Fairy Godmother than an angel.

What book would you award the tag of “unlikely friends”?


3 Responses to “Unlikely Friends”

  1. Harriet Says:

    I loved Instances of the Number Three. I have another of her books on a pile somewhere around here and must read it soon!

  2. Simon Says:

    IofNT sounds like one to look out for. I have a couple of Sally V’s books, so perhaps best read those first.

    Unlikely Friends… could I include Miss Hargreaves/Norman…?!

  3. jackie Says:

    Happy Birthday to you (better late than never). I do like the sound of ‘Instances of the Number three’. Bang goes my not buying anything resolution – again :D

    Bookshops with daughters is lovely though, youngest is a bookworm, she is stuck into ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ at the moment and is really enjoying it. She said that half way through her Science exam today she was dreaming of getting home and starting to read it again – That’s my girl!!

    Glad you enjoyed your day, Jackie x

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