A Dark and Stormy Night
To that which we give the name of Love, be it of the flesh or of God, is it ever less than divine? In a space of mere hours, a life and faith in their entirety are to be re-lived by Simon Chance. One-time missionary and bishop, Chance had withdrawn in mid-life to research - and teach - his enduring mentor Dante, creator of The Divine Comedy. He is recently widowed, after the prolonged descent into dementia of his devoted wife Marigold, violinist and composer. To recuperate, he is invited by a life-long confidante, Clare, to her son's villa in the hills behind St Tropez in southern France, to join a house party of old friends from their university days, each now reaping the rewards of their worldly careers. The reunion coincides with the collapse of global banking confidence - and the playing-out of Clare's own loss of love. Such is one weave of this narrative. On a walk in the forest of the Massif des Maures surrounding the remote villa, in search of a church abandoned centuries ago, Chance loses his way - in a `dark wood', as once experienced by Dante. The night turns wild. Such is a second weave. Marigold has not been the only love of Simon Chance. The passionate liaison of his earlier life, pre-ordination, was with a student botanist. This very Evie, with her Parliamentarian spouse, is about to join the house party of Clare, her greatest friend. A vital element in that searing, abandoned youthful liaison is yet to be reconciled with this scholar-cleric Chance had come to be. Now it rises to confront him. Here is the binding and defining weave of this night, unraveling in dark and storm and dawn. The working-through of the nature of love, physical and spiritual, in love's innocence and purity, will redeem Simon Chance or destroy him. Or both.