… how much of love is simple physical lust, or a craving for admiration or security? Can falling in love prove such a heady experience that it blinds us to reality? Was Anthony’s love for his wife Deborah based on a sense of kudos in hooking such an elegant and high-powered woman? Is his love for Mary prompted by his growing sexual frustration, and by his desire to be cherished and esteemed? Mary herself, the romantic interest in the book, fears she can never love a child, but pours out her devotion on both God and her cats.
Unlike Darren, I’d planned Mary from the start. In fact, her name came first – Mary Sparrow, the name of a specialist I was seeing at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital. The minute she introduced herself, I knew this was the right name for my character – Mary symbolizing her Catholicism, Sparrow suggesting her spry, cheery vulnerability – and fortunately the real Mary, who was as amenable and lovable as my character, had no objection to my using it.
This name was given to me on a plate, but naming my characters usually requires a good deal of thought because of the many different factors involved: class, age, associations, geographical region. My previous novel, An Enormous Yes, featured a Maria, also a Catholic. I find it difficult as a writer to stay away too long from Catholicism, since its doctrines and tenets are as deeply branded into me as letters in a stick of rock. And there’s no need for any research. Even tricky Catholic concepts such as Transubstantiation and the Immaculate Conception are simply part of my heritage.