Books in Brief

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The Independent Culture
Eros & Psyche by William Riviere, Hodder pounds 15.99. 'I am amusing. I divert. At dinner parties people discuss me.' Imogen, thirtyish and a single mother, has come to stay at her godmother's house on a Greek island and, as the quote suggests, modesty is not her strong point. During the single day spanned by the novel, 20 other guests assemble, among them Dario, the unwitting father of Imogen's child. Confrontation occurs early on; suspicions mount.

Despite the book's title, Imogen is not the passive dupe of Greek myth. Allegorical status might have excused a degree of disdain for reality; without it, the story groans with implausibility. Imogen deliberately conceived her child as a declaration of freedom from bourgeois domesticity, but motherhood has placed no fetters on her free-

ranging lifestyle, nor modified her insufferable egotism. The child scarcely exists, other than as an ornament to adult life. Single parents the world over will want to know Imogen's secret, but William Riviere merely credits her with 'magnificent spirituality'.

Symbolising this nobility of spirit, thoroughbred horses feature rather more prominently here than the child does. While he may know little of horses and motherhood (he should perhaps have tried out a passionate embrace on horseback before writing about it), Riviere lyrically evokes the colours and textures of his familiar island and the Ionian sea he obviously loves. What a pity, therefore, that he has been seduced by his self-regarding characters, and sees them uncritically as the aesthetic and spiritual elite they imagine themselves to be.

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