The Three Graces by Amanda Craig - review by Kathy O’Shaughnessy

Kathy O’Shaughnessy

Wedding Crasher

The Three Graces

By

Abacus 395pp £18.99
 

Amanda Craig’s ninth novel, The Three Graces, juggles multiple plotlines. In the pretty Tuscan countryside a Russian oligarch lives in fear of being poisoned, well-to-do expats and younger English folk deal with first-world problems, immigrants hide, and there’s a colonial past to be reckoned with. The plotting is intricate and the themes are big, yet the book’s special quality comes from something else: a friendship between three octogenarian women whose thoughtful preoccupations with the past, the present and each other form the novel’s
charming centre.

The three women, Diana, Marta and Ruth, have retired to Santorno, a fictional hillside town in Italy. Diana looks after her dementia-plagued husband; Marta, a pianist, is preparing her next concert for the oligarch; Ruth is hosting the wedding of her grandson Olly, a handsome hedge fund manager. They drink coffee in the sun, annoy and like each other, and resolve not to talk about ailments (‘Between them they had four breasts, five eyes and three hip replacements’). Their life in Santorno is made possible by Enzo, who does essential jobs for them. But he is in trouble. When the novel opens, Enzo, terrified about migrant crime, shoots an intruder – an illegal immigrant, it turns out.

Enzo fears he’s committed a murder, but it transpires that the immigrant, called Blessing, has taken shelter in an outhouse near Ruth’s farmhouse, where he’s quickly mistaken for a wedding guest. What luck! He can get food and a bed, and is exactly where he needs to be,

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