Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Adulteress

Noelle Harrison
Happy New Year! And may I recommend an orgy of adultery to start 2010?
Just a quick question to start with: Who knows which of the Ten Commandments state “Thou shalt not commit adultery?”
The answer is number seven; it lies between Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not steal. This commandment was given to the wandering Israelites by Moses via God on Mount Sinai, right at the start of the Bible (Exodus Chapter 20) which leads me to think adultery, the sexual unfaithfulness of a husband or wife, is as old as the institution of marriage and therefore as old as time.
Having just read The Adulteress, where almost every character is sexually unfaithful to a husband or wife, and every one of them is miserable because of it, I have come to the conclusion committing adultery creates more problems than it resolves.
The moral of this story is: Don’t do it! Just Say No!
The Adulteress has two stories intercut with each other. First there’s the modern day story of Nicholas who walks out of his marriage to Charlie when she admits to committing adultery. Though she begs him to forgive her, and though his friends assure him she’s sorry, Nicholas’s pride has taken a hammering. He buys a rundown cottage in the country, where he retreats to lick his wounds. He advertises as a piano teacher. He flirts with one of his students and even though he knows she is married, he indulges in his own bit of adultery with her. He calls this 'learning to to make his life move on.'
The cottage is haunted by the ghost of June Fanning, an Englishwoman who lived there alone during the Second World War. Her husband has gone to the RAF and June is lonely and bored. She has not ever lived in the Irish country-side before; she feels like a fish out of water. She is an academic who studied Classics at university and wrote a thesis about Julia Caesar, daughter of Augustus, who was banished from Rome for adultery. By a stroke of fluky good luck, just across the fields from June’s cottage, lives Phelim Sheridan who has a library full of books on Ancient Rome. He invites her over to visit his library. She discovers a bedridden wife who is dying. One thing leads to another... But her act of adultery is something June regrets all her life, and something she continues to regret, even after she dies.
Hence the haunting of Nicolas's cottage...
Noelle Harrison is an Englishwoman who lives in rural Ireland. She started her career writing stage plays, but after the birth of her son in 1997 she began to write fiction. Her first novel Beatrice was published in 2004. She has won awards for her short stories, and has written extensively on visual art in Ireland, contributing to various journals and artists' catalogues. She works as a part time resource teacher, and lectures in History of Art.
VERDICT: This novel should be given to every Bridezilla who struggles to see beyond her big white dress and her wedding day. It teaches that marriage is often a disappointment, but adultery is even more of a disappointment.

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