GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / BOOK MY PLACE – I have always been a fan of John Fowles’ work, with The French Lieutenant’s Woman high on my favourites list, but found this novel, Mantissa, a slight disappointment.
The protagonist wakes in a hospital bed in an amnesiac state. He is in a grey, padded room and his wife is present but she is shortly replaced by Dr Delfie and the black Nurse Cory. The dialogue between Miles Green and the women as they indulge in extremely unorthodox therapy is hilarious and, as the novel progresses, it is made clear to us that these exchanges are created within the mind of the amnesiac.
The grey padding seems to symbolically represent the brain of the patient and within it he discourses with his muse, Erato, in a male-female dialogue where she changes shape and attitude so that sometimes he dominates the dialogue and sometimes she does.
At times, the dialogue is very amusing but, like many of the critics who, apparently, disliked this novel, I found that it went on too long.