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The Dream of Scipio

by Iain Pears

Three interwoven stories about doomed passionate men and enigmatic strong women. The ideas are more dominant than the plots - the links across time through the stories are intriguing. Read it if you are travelling to Provence, it gives a different view of the history of place.

Extract

A small wrinkle and a veil askew were perhaps enough to inspire a painter, but not in themselves sufficient to have such a devastating effect on a man's soul, so some other explanation must be sought. For Olivier, standing nearby, it felt as though some immensely powerful beast had torn at his breast, sucking the very life from him. He gasped in shock, but fortunately no one heard him. So intense was the sentiment that he had to sit down on the steps and remain there, staring long after the receding form had disappeared from view. And when he stood up, his legs shaking, his brow damp with sweat even though it was still morning and not yet hot, he knew that his life had changed forever. He did no work for days.

Thus began a tale of the doomed love between a poet and a young girl which was to lead to such a calamitous and cruel ending.

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