The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay extract

Nina Findlay - 3D Image

Nina Findlay, alluring, accomplished, deluded, always the heroine of her own life, has found an irresistible safety in being adored by two men, brothers she’s known since childhood. But when her sister-in-law becomes gravely ill, the triangle that Nina’s depended on becomes catastrophically unstable.

The life she’s known begins rapidly to unravel, and odd things begin to happen which those around her insist are all in her mind. Separated from her husband, she goes on holiday to a tiny Greek island, the honeymoon island of 25 years earlier, and is involved in a serious road accident. There, while recuperating, she becomes close to her doctor, who’s also on the point of divorce. A new relationship seems possible – but what’s real in the situation, and what’s imagined?

Pressed in at all sides by other people’s truths, how can Nina be sure of identifying her own? A diary that was her mother’s proves to be a turning point. Perhaps romantic love is always a kind of undiagnosed madness. Face to face with the facts behind her assumptions, the time has come for Nina to unravel the taut knot of her past.

In this short extract Nina reflects on the whirlwind leading up to her decision to get on a plane to Greece:

Nina lay with her head against the seatback, her book unread on her lap. Over and over she ran through the conversation she’d had with Paolo at the airport, the look on his face. She’d had to text Luca to warn him that Paolo knew, and what it was that Paolo knew, because how could Paolo not steam round there and bang on the door? She couldn’t help visualising it, the standoff on the doorstep and what might be said in her absence. But perhaps nothing very much would be said. Perhaps the men would each decide never to mention it again. It was as likely an outcome as any other. She recited it to herself from time to time, the text message she’d sent to Luca as they’d prepared for takeoff, just before being told to turn off her phone. The repetition was self-critical. The situation had been urgent and rushed and it hadn’t been a kind message, nor convincingly apologetic.

Just told Paolo about us, the basic fact, in rush at departures and am now on plane. Also, important detail. It was April and after I moved out. Nothing said about February, nor about April conversations. Please stick to story for my sake. For both our sakes. Sorry. 

Why had she written “for both our sakes”? She shouldn’t have written that. He might interpret it as some kind of hinted threat. She’d expected him to respond straight away – Luca’s phone was always kept in view – and that they’d talk more, but the reply hadn’t arrived until the following day. The island signal was dodgy, but even so. Even so. Sixteen hours later. It took him sixteen hours, and even then it was just an ok without even a full stop to follow it.