Letter: Novel source

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The Independent Online
Jan Dalley reasonably concludes that the opening sentence of Jay McInerney's new novel, Last of the Savages - "The capacity for friendship is God's way of apologising for our families" - has Tolstoyan overtones ("Border with history", Review, 16 June). However, McInerney appears to have cribbed it from the Spanish proverb "Friends are God's apologies for relatives". Richard Ingrams made use of it for the title of God's Apologies, his story of the friendship between Malcolm Muggeridge, Hesketh Pearson and Hugh Kingsmill.

Terry Philpot

Oxted, Surrey