One long, languid midsummer’s day, the Godleys gather at the family home of Arden to attend their father’s bedside. Adam, the elder child, and Petra, only nineteen, find that relations with their mother, Ursula, and their dying father, old Adam, are as strained as ever. Adam’s relationship with his wife, Helen, seems too on the brink of collapse and Petra, fragile and deeply troubled, finds deepest relief in her own pain.
The gods, those mischievous spirits, watch silently, flitting through this dark ménage. Unable to resist intervening in the mortals’ lives, they spy, tease and seduce, all the while looking upon the antics of their playthings with a mixture of mild bafflement and occasional envy.
Old Adam – husband, father and esteemed mathematician – has made his name grappling with the concept of the infinite. His own time on earth seems to be running out, and his mind runs to disquieting memories. Little does he realize, as he lies mute but alert in the Sky room, that the gods are capable of interposing themselves in the action, and even changing time itself when it pleases them.
Overflowing with a bawdy humour, and a deep and refreshing clarity of insight, The Infinities is at once a gloriously earthy romp and a delicately poised, infinitely wise look at the terrible and wonderful plight of being human. In electrifying prose, Banville captures the aching intensity, the magic and enchantment, of a single midsummer’s day in Arden.