The Mirror Cracked by Agatha Christie
I had this novel in the back of my mind when I wrote Living With It and there are various points of contact between the two novels, which I won’t go into because it will give the plot of one or both away. All I will say is that in both books things that have happened years previously come back to haunt the characters in ways no one anticipates.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Having been self-employed for many years, the idea of being to exact revenge on non-payers with a bit of recorder playing is appealing! But, in seriousness, the story interests me as it touches on what happens to a place when a generation is lost – a recurring theme throughout history due to war, disease and migration. No one knows quite how the story originated but it has been used to interpret the loss of a generation, which may have been due to the plague, crusades, or simply colonisation of Eastern Europe.
The Iliad by Homer
No, I haven’t read the original Greek. Only the translation. Everyone in The Iliad, even the gods, are seeking revenge but what is revealing is that even though the action takes place over 2000 years ago, the emotions portrayed are recognisable 21st Century ones. It shows that human nature has not changed and infidelity and alienation are as likely to lead to revenge and war now as they were then. In a strange way I find this comforting because it underlines the truth in the old adage “we’re only human.”
The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
I don’t know if this counts as a revenge novel but it certainly illustrates the point Marcus Aurelius made all those years ago. The best possible revenge that Mandela could have taken against the white majority who upheld apartheid and robbed him of his freedom was to rise above it with resilience, hope and dignity. It was his laying the desire for revenge to one side, which ultimately led to triumph in a way which sheer vengefulness could not have.
The Life and Loves of a She Devil by Fay Weldon
Just in case I was sounding a bit too sanctimonious and forgiving, I had to include Fay Weldon’s gloriously imagined tale of revenge and retribution. Not least as it indulges just about every fantasy every wronged, put upon or simply a bit fed up woman has ever had; from forcing your husband to look after the children 24-7 to using someone who used you in a spectacularly inventive way.
Living With It by Lizzie Enfield is out on 26th June from Myriad Editions.