A Whistling Woman by A S Byatt

A Whistling Woman

A S Byatt

On first reading this novel the seemingly disparate plot lines are a little confusing. But links between the many diverse characters gradually become clear as the story progresses. This is a challenging read but worth the perseverance due to well formed characters and a highly original plot. The book stayed with me long after I'd turned the last page.

Extract

When the plump boy woke, it was deep night, and very dark. Swimming up out of sleep, he thought, he really thought, the poor fool, that he had had a bad dream .... The man could not remember, when the boy went out of his bedroom to check whether he had dreamed, whether his father was back, what the boy had hoped, expected, or felt. He saw him in his memory creep along a landing, with vacancy roaring around the strip of linoleum he trod on, he saw him - the poor thing - tremble so violently he could not open the bedroom door he must have closed.

When he did, they were still there, of course. And his father, from whom help might have come, was not.

He saw himself standing, with his back to the death-bed, staring out into the night. He saw the pitiful shaking boy, and he saw himself. That is, his present self inhabited that memory.

Parallels
  • Riven Rock by T Coraghessan Boyle
  • Babel Tower by A S Byatt