February 2014 Club


50-something respectable science professional and suburban mother, Yvonne Carmichael, embarks on a steamy affair in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster with a complete stranger.

She considers herself fairly logical and held in great esteem throughout the scientific community for her DNA research, so this behaviour is quite out of character, but after all, her husband had an affair with a younger colleague and she managed to forgive him, so logically, she's almost entitled to have a bit of fun, in her eyes. At one point, she compares the animalistic nature of mating with the inevitability of the Thames flowing towards the sea.

The man in the expensive grey suit gives away very little about himself, other than he's married. He gives her a cheap mobile phone to contact him and takes her to a "safe house" in Vauxhall at one point, so she somewhat romantically and naively assumes he is a spy.

Confidence boosted and on a love-struck high, Yvonne attends a boozy party for the scientific glitterati, and after a few drinks too many, finds herself in an uncompromising and dangerous situation, and from there, her life spirals out of control.

Interesting to compare the act that her lover, Mark performed on her behalf with the small act of kindness and protection that her husband, Guy undertook at the end of the novel. Will Mark be truly altruistic in the end or save himself? Is he a fantasist? Does Yvonne still love Mark at the end of everything? Can you love two people at once and if so, is it a different kind of love?

Some interesting observations about altruism, marriage, the penal and legal system and how we perceive ourselves and how our "stories" are made by Louise Doughty throughout the book.

Colourway inspiration

The novel is entirely set in London.

Oil Slick

For the variegated colourway, I was inspired by the phrase "The sky is grey; the Thames slips and slides in an oily fashion". It was ambitious, but I wanted to recreate an oil slick effect on the silky yarn. So I used grey and interspersed with opal blue, bright pinky plum and mustard aiming for the colours of an oil slick. Although all the colours of a rainbow could potentially appear in an oil slick, constructive interference influences which colours you see. To me, often I see the colours of printer inks - magenta, cyan and yellow. Given the dye method, every skein is slightly different.

Grey Suit

For the semi-solid, it had to be grey. Mark Costley's "expensive dark grey suit" is mentioned often, even in the courtroom scenes. Yvonne was wearing a grey jersey dress when they first met. The daylight in the slightly seedy room in Vauxhall is grey through the net curtains. Towards the end, Yvonne wraps herself in a grey blanket in the hammock.

The yarn I chose is Selkino - merino/silk singles for no other reason than I needed a silky base for the oil slick effect.