Monday 6 March 2017

The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox

Published by HQ on March 9, 2017

Character Profile: Vivien Lockhart

The Silent Fountain drops Vivien Lockhart into such an intricate romantic dilemma that to get her character right was key. Vivien is one of life’s searchers. She is searching for success, for love, for happiness – but most of all she is searching for security. After a troubled upbringing with her zealously religious father, Vivien vows never to rely on another person again. But her childhood hasn’t equipped her for independence. As a result, instead of seeking safety in herself, she seeks safety in a dangerous world – and the danger that visits her will change her life forever.

To an onlooker, Vivien has it all. After escaping home, her star rises in glittering 1970s Hollywood. She becomes the darling of the movie world, the kind of actress that defines a generation – but beneath the veneer in a broken woman. Demons from her past chase her to the bottom of the bottle, until one drastic night a shocking piece of news almost ends her life. Through this trauma she meets renowned doctor Giovanni Moretti, her soul mate, her match. Everything seems perfect until she’s introduced to his sister, and learns that dark secrets haunt her new lover’s family.

When we meet Vivien in the present day, we see the effects this love affair has had. But why? How has Vivien wound up in a remote Italian villa, buried deep in the Tuscan hills? Why is she alone? Where has Gio gone, and what happened to his mysterious sister? Strange sounds come from the attic. The fountain in the courtyard has never run dry. The maid brings Vivien pills – but should she trust them? How has this once magnificent woman become so frightened, so regretful, so afraid?

The push and pull of these two elements of Vivien’s personality were crucial. On the one hand she is an immaculate celebrity on top of the world; on the other she’s a vulnerable child. Vivien is also something of a fantasist: should we trust what she is telling us? She idealises her romance with Gio, grasping at ways to make it work – because, without it, what does she have? She’s right back where she started, a bruised little girl listening to her father’s fanatical sermons. Her instinct to compensate for her unhappy past, to make things right despite her misgivings, is ultimately her undoing.

I’m fascinated by the mistrust of women who express their emotions. At points in The Silent Fountain Vivien is labelled mad, hysterical, out of control – and the more she is labelled such the more she seems to become what she is told she is. She even begins to doubt herself. What is the secret that Gio and his sister are hiding? What is in her head and what is real? All the money in the world cannot answer these questions. Only she can – and then we, as readers, must be prepared to face the answers.

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