The Fantastic Fact

Michael Wood

  • Mrs Osmond by John Banville
    Viking, 376 pp, £14.99, October 2017, ISBN 978 0 241 26017 3

A rich old American in John Banville’s new novel makes an amused distinction between money and small change. Asked what money is, he just laughs. This is not malevolent laughter but he does do a dangerous thing with his money. He leaves a lot of it, when he dies, to a young American niece. She is grateful, of course, and the money enhances her freedom – at first. It’s what she does with her freedom that darkens her world. She knows the money is not exactly to blame, but has to believe, once she has married a man who very subtly disguised his financial designs on her, that her wealth has been the accomplice of darkness:

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