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Aphrodite's Hat [Kindle Edition]

Salley Vickers
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A wonderful collection of stories from the much-loved Salley Vickers.

The stories in this long-awaited collection by Salley Vickers all deal with psychological aspects of love: love given and withheld, love craved and lost, love met and disappointed; the differing shades of loves between friends, between parents and children, between children and other adults; love even, in one case, for a pet.

Psychologically acute, sharply written in lucid and often witty prose, these stories, set in Venice, Greece and Rome as well as London and the English countryside, take us into the complex geography of the human heart. Sometimes joyous and humorous, sometimes melancholy and poignant, this collection confirms Salley Vickers' reputation as one of our most subtle and engaging writers.

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Product Description


‘The stories in this collection are so immediately appealing you can devour them one after the other’ Independent on Sunday


'Aphrodite's Hat is an assured debut, confidently ranging across moods and voices, and deftly pinpointing the moments when her characters most truly reveal themselves. Vickers [puts] love and art into the form.' Observer 'Sparkles with dry wit and shrewd insights ! terrific' Mail on Sunday 'A box of delights ! the emotional and technical range of this collection is both impressive and delightfully disorienting ! Frank O'Connor famously said that is was possible for a bad writer to write a good novel, but only a really good writer could write a decent short story. Vickers's first collection proves beyond doubt that she's a really good writer.' Frank Cottrell Boyce, Guardian 'A deceptively wild, seamlessly well-crafted collection' The Times 'Beautifully simple with a devastating emotional climax ! with the collection, Vickers proves herself a formidable and astute chronicler of the psychology of love' Sunday Times Praise for Salley Vickers: 'Salley Vickers is a writer whose subtle intelligence and unobtrusive command of narrative I always enjoy. She sees with a clear eye and writes with a light hand, and she knows how the world works; and these qualities are much rarer than they should be. She's a presence worth cherishing in the ranks of modern novelists.' Philip Pullman 'If you enjoy the work of Marilynne Robinson, Penelope Fitzgerald, James Salter or Anita Brookner, you should be reading Vickers. All these authors reflect, with grace and gravity, on life's moments of sorrowful epiphany.' Michael Dirda, Washington Post 'There is something rare and special about Vickers as a novelist. In exploring the connections between faith and imagination, art and redemption, religion and science in an intelligent, unusual but very readable way, she manages to touch something buried deep in all of us. It gives her work a quietly compelling quality.' Peter Stanford, Independent

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 247 KB
  • Print Length: 277 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007371063
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (28 Oct. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,863 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Salley Vickers' subtle, witty style and clear-eyed observation of human nature has been compared to Penelope Fitzgerald and Barbara Pym. She has worked as a university teacher of literature, specialising in Shakespeare, and in adult education, where she specialised in the literature of the ancient world. She is a trained analytical psychologist and lectures widely on the connections between literature, psychology and religion. She divides her time between London, Venice and the West Country.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical and Mysterious 12 Nov. 2010
Salley Vickers' well-known light touch and shrewd psychological analysis is brilliantly displayed in this collection of stories exploring the theme of love. The theme is captivatingly portrayed in the title story, whose subject, Aphrodite naked but for a wonderful hat in a painting by Cranach, suggestively adorns the cover. The stories are clever, poignant, wise and often disconcerting and strange. Few are about resolved love, many about the gaps, tragedies and pot holes of love. There are several slightly ghostly stories (I especially liked the one about the poet John Keats) and some very funny ones too (Mrs Radinsky about a medium and The Deal about a precocious six-year old getting the better of her parents). But my favourite was The Indian Child where a 'loquacious' Shakespeare meets and talks with his own creations. For those who loved Miss Garnet's Angel this is vintage Vickers beautifully presented and in cracking form.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of real gems 24 Nov. 2010
Salley Vickers is one of my favourite novelists so I was delighted to find this, her first collection of short stories. She proves herself to be a master of the form, which seems particularly well suited to her deceptively subtle style. The lightness of touch disguises some sudden dives into depths of emotion, so that the reader is frequently caught off guard by the twist in the tale, as in the clever title story of the collection, or The Buried Life, which is a painfully accurate account of the pitfalls of making new relationships when there are children. But there are happy stories here too, such as the delightful Shakespearian fairy tail, The Indian Child, or the witty Green Bus to St Ives, about an unusual late love affair. Exquisite stuff!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short Stories Re-discovered 16 Mar. 2011
By A. J. Russell-pattison VINE VOICE
I have never been a great fan of short stories or collections of them. I generally find that they are too dense and esoteric, trying to cram to much into a genre which does not afford the space or abrupt and under developed. A friend sent me this book (good job, from the title and cover I would probably not have lifted it from a book display) and I started without much joy. I soon, however, gained much joy on realising that this author has achieved what everyone says is so hard, namley to crack short story writing. With deceptive simplicity and true skill she crafts each story well. I highly recommend it!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 18 Nov. 2010
By Ella
Having read a number of Salley Vickers books, I always look out for a new one. Usually I am not a short story reader but I was delighted by this book. All the stories have the usual ingredients of Culture, Spirituality and Insight which are a feature of Salley Vickers writing. For those who do not have much time to give to reading but who want to read something meaningful, this is an ideal book. I do hope Salley writes more short stories, I am sure that her professional experience has afforded her a wealth of ideas to draw upon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A collection of gems 11 Mar. 2015
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've just re-read 'Aphrodite's Hat' and I found this collection of stories just as good as I first thought it, some 4 years ago. I like short stories every now and then, they suit our 21-st century, Twitter-shortened attention spans and busy lives perfectly; you can put a book down for a bit and come back later to another story, and get another burst of intellectual stimulation. I also agree with everyone who thinks that the genre is difficult to master, and that Salley Vickers has done very well indeed: she's written here some true, if diminutive, masterpieces. Every story is different, even if love and its loss (or costs) tend to be the main subject. I very much like the way the author dissects and presents fleeting emotions or decades-long relationships with incredible delicacy and economy, yet pathos is ever present - the whole book shamelessly tugs at your heartstrings. Each story has a moral but it's so subtly told, nothing ever feels preachy. Each endings is deliciously unexpected. The one about the marmalade girl cat is just adorable. 'The Dragon's Bones' says so much in so few words, I found it astounding. Not quite genius, no; but a very good, middle-of-the-road read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming and cohesive collection 21 Sept. 2011
I am not wild about collections of short stories generally - either the stories are overcompressed or too slight, or the sheer variety of the subject matter jars. This is a collection which I feel steers a good middle course. In confining the theme to love, the collection has sufficient cohesion. But each story has something a little different to say, and one reads it with a smile of enjoyment or acknowledgement.
Having said that though, I recently read Midsummer Night in the Workhouse - Diana Athill's collection of short stories about love, and in terms of skill, point and vision I felt these were quite a long way ahead. Part of the problem with the Vickers collection is that her calm semi detached - quasi psychoanalytical? - approach does place a barrier between the reader and the story. One observes wisely, from a distance; with Athill one lives the experience with her ...
So a pleasant enjoyable read, but not likely to be your book of the year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Stories Tinged at Times with Melancholy 27 July 2012
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A lovely collection of stories by the brilliant Salley Vickers, dealing with the theme of love: from a small girl's craving for a kitten (she gets it!) to a young man's attraction to his neighbour, a re-telling of the tale of the Indian Boy from A Midsummer Night's Dream, a woman's surprising pregnancy after years of barrenness, a woman's grieving for a dead child, a middle-aged man's discovery of love in a surprising place and several love affairs, each very different. Some of the stories are deeply melancholic, and at times, to be honest, I found them a bit too much so (such as 'Join Me for Christmas', where a woman learns the old adage that it's better to be alone than with the wrong person', 'The Buried Life', where a woman finds that leaving her husband for a more glamorous model has dire consequences for one of her children', 'The Return', in which a ghost returns to the hotel in Rome she stayed in and died in with her lover, or 'The Sphinx', in which a platonic passion between a middle-aged woman and a younger man ends when the man is reunited with a former lover). But the writing is always beautiful, and the emotions explored completely believable, and the characters sympathetic. At times, Vickers can be wonderfully moving. 'Aphrodite's Hat' (in which a pair of student lovers are reunited years later, when married to other people, and begin a secret affair) was very thoughtful, 'The Fall of a Sparrow', in which the ghost of John Keats (one of my favourite poets! Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book.
Enjoyable stories.
Published 2 months ago by Mrs P Menzies
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Another good novel by salley
Published 2 months ago by Mrs Carol
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
just what we wanted thanks a lot
Published 8 months ago by roger
3.0 out of 5 stars Some of the short stories were good and some were ok
Some of the short stories were good and some were ok, wasn't the best selection and the stories themselves had little closure and quite random
Published 10 months ago by sophie
5.0 out of 5 stars ... book of short stories is a delightful mix of fun and love
This book of short stories is a delightful mix of fun and love. Very clever endings to the stories. I would certainly recommend this book, and other Salley Vickers books to... Read more
Published 11 months ago by No 19 Wellie
3.0 out of 5 stars this lady writes well
short stories which I hadn't expected. But good short stories.
Published 12 months ago by Ruth Coppard
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to download
Purchased this book as part of our book group choice for this year. Disappointed with the content as felt more like magazine short stories and lacked 'bite'.
Published 16 months ago by Labrador14
3.0 out of 5 stars OK!
I found the stories in this book very uneven in terms of how they engaged my interest. I am a tremendous fan of Salley Vickers' novels, but I feel that the short story format does... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Dr. H. A. Jefferies
5.0 out of 5 stars Salley Vickers does it again
Vickers demonstrates her amazing talent for detail and capturing amazing carachters in the short story mode as easily as she does in the full length story. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Andrea Malyon
3.0 out of 5 stars It's some and some
Some of the short stories worked very well - others I felt were disappointing - but everybody's tastes are different. Read more
Published on 13 July 2013 by TillyTee
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