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The title refers to various material and theological threesomes into which the narrative keeps rearranging itself: father, mother, child; artist, model, painting; purgatory, heaven, hell - and above all, the eternal triangle of husband, wife and mistress.When 62-year-old Peter Hansome was killed in a car crash, he left behind his slightly older wife, Bridget, proprietor of a shop selling antique French bric-a-brac, and his much younger girlfriend, an art dealer called Frances.On an early page the author, one of whose numerous qualifications is as an analytical psychologist, explains, "Many women in Bridget's shoes as a matter of course would have detested Frances. But this is not an account of feminine jealousy or even revenge, and not all human beings (not even women) conform to the attitudes generally expected of them."Instead it is an account of feminine forgiveness and even friendship.

This elegant, enjoyable and story ends a year after Peter's death, with Bridget reinvigorated, her lifelong disguises cast off, belated honesty (at least with herself) acquired. She has found - or some spirit has shown her - that "what matters is to be real".

Jessica Mann,The Sunday Telegraph, 29/07/01

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