On the surface, this novel is a romance in which a young writer (Peter, 24) reluctantly falls in love with a married woman (Laura, 26) and wrestles with the moral dilemmas the situation creates for him. It also examines the choices that confront both Peter and Laura, forcing them to delve into what they each really want in life as opposed to what they think they want.
At a deeper level, however, it is the story of the genesis of a novel that can be extrapolated to any undertaking that looks easy to the inexperienced but proves far more challenging in reality than expected.
And at a deeper level still, this novel explores the nature of fiction; and whether what we accept as reality is any more ‘real’ than the fiction Peter is trying to write.
But it is not an academic thesis.
For readers who are prepared to submit themselves to the journey that Peter takes, this novel provides a virtual reality tour of what it is like to pursue one’s dream only to realise that, in the end, the dream was self-delusion.
The story is constructed so that it can be interpreted in two ways: (a) Peter and Laura continue meeting after their first encounter in a Paris art gallery and gradually fall in love; or (b) Peter and Laura never meet again following that first encounter and what is described thereafter (in the novel) is actually the product of Peter’s imagination. The novel itself is, in fact, the manuscript that Peter begins to write in Part Two. There are clues distributed throughout the story to support either interpretation; and devices employed to make the reader question if what he is reading is part of the fiction Peter is creating or part of the reality he is experiencing.