Where Three Roads Meet

“… Vickers knows her Hellenic stuff, and she conjures the long-dried fount of western civilisation with eerie reality. The novel is a bright, hard, fine-cut gem” Hugo Barnacle, Sunday Times

“Myths invite speculation, provoke enquiry and thought. Freud knew this, which is why they fascinated him. Salley Vickers knows it too, and in this novella she has given another twist to the stories of Oedipus and of Freud. The great investigator of the sub-conscious gas becomes a mythical figure himself. This is a book to dwell on, to ponder, and delight in” Alan Massie, Scotsman

“I am speechless with admiration.” John Julius Norwich

“She’s a presence worth cherishing in the ranks of modern novelists.” Philip Pullman

It is 1938 and Sigmund Freud, suffering from the debilitating effects of cancer, has been permitted by the Nazis to leave Vienna. He seeks refuge in England, taking up residence in the house in Hampstead in which he will die only fifteen months later. But his last months are made vivid by the arrival of a stranger, who comes and goes according to Freud’s state of health. Who is the mysterious visitor and why has he come to tell the famed proponent of the Oedipus complex his strange story?

Set partly in pre-war London and partly in Ancient Greece, Where Three Roads Meet is as brilliantly compelling as it is moving. Former psychoanalyst and acclaimed novelist Salley Vickers revisits a crime committed long ago which still has disturbing reverberations for us all.

Salley Vickers by Oh StudiosAs well as being an acclaimed author, Salley Vickers is a trained analytical psychologist and lectures widely on the connections between literature, psychology and religion. She lives and works in London and Bath.
  1. Lyn (May 27, 2008 at 9:13 am) :

    Is a fascination with the myths and legends of Ancient Greece and Rome a stage we all go through? I certainly did, although it was many years ago in my youth! Reading Salley Vickers’ reworking of the tragic tale of Oedipus brought it all back to me, all those stories of gods and heroes which have been told and retold through the ages.

    To my mind, linking this reworking with Sigmund Freud was inspired. With hindsight, now that she’s written it in this way, it seems an obvious thing to do. The two are so interwoven in the public’s mind that you can’t think of one without the other – but it was a brilliant idea on her part and one that was beautifully executed.

    I’ll admit to a bias in that I’ve read other novels by Salley Vickers and love her writing style. Her way with words echoes something within me and I found Where Three Roads Meet well up to the standard that I’ve come to expect from her.

    As Freud lies seriously ill and later dying, Tiresias appears and slowly uncovers the true history of Oedipus, challenging some of his own interpretations and giving the reader new insights into this well-known story. We all know Oedipus as the man who killed his father and married his mother. Here we meet him as a real person, living out his destiny, which may or may not have been under his control.

    In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this intriguing account of the Oedipus myth as related to Freud by one who was there and took part in its unfolding.

  2. foxed (June 15, 2008 at 11:12 am) :

    I came to myth from reading Carl Jung – previously I’d thought of it as bedtime reading for children, or something you suffered at school. Suddenly, myths became a vocabulary for describing mental states, and illuminating my everyday experience and relationships. I read Greek and Viking myths, English and Celtic tales, looked at the Tarot for numinous characters.

    In this spirit I came to Where Three Roads Meet, a story of Freud’s last illness, where Tiresias the seer, one of the participants in the Oedipus myth, visits his sickroom and in instalments re-tells the story from his point of view, with Freud interjecting and commenting.

    This is most beautifully done, with Vickers evoking the stifling sickroom, Freud brought low from his lionised public persona, and Tiresias relating events as they unfolded, revealing their meat little by little. Its the classic talking cure, the issues teased out, the analyst questioning, probing – but here with Tiresias asserting his right to the original mythic view, while Freud is intent to classify, define what happened in scientific terms.

    A thoughtful, atmospheric read with the contrasting (and converging) mythic and psychological views of the Big Stuff – death, sex, guilt. Recommended.

  3. Leonie (July 2, 2008 at 10:28 am) :

    This book read like a dream and the prose itself had a morpehan quality. It made a lot of sense that Freud would be tangled up in the Oedipal myth in his last moments as he was immersed in it for a good chunk of his adult life.

    I enjoyed this fresh glimpse of both Oedipus and Freud

  4. sheepette (July 22, 2008 at 5:18 pm) :

    Where Three Roads Meet

    I received this book from Cannongate books as part of their Myths give away. I felt slightly greedy as I’d already had one of the other ones. (Binu and the great wall).

    My earlier thoughts were : why did I not request this one 1st ?

    I liked the style of writing all the way throughout The only thing was, I found it difficult to remember where i’d left the conversation between reads., So how poor Freud coped between visits i’ll never know.

    By chapter 4, I wondered briefly Who Freud was talking to or more accurately who was talking to Freud? But then I dismissed the thought. does it really matter?

    How long was Freud dying for? His death seemed very prolonged, which it probably was.

    I had a question about page 186/187, Is the repeated lines supposed to be there?
    “To tolerate life is the hardest of all its duties. So he didn’t die?”

    I didn’t know If it was a misprint of more a symbol of Freud’s end being near?
    At the end of the book, When his visitor reveals himself to be……., I was still none the wiser on who he actually way, maybe that’s just me.

    A dream is an unconscious reality, a reflection.

  5. booktwitcher (October 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm) :

    This book was recommended to me as I am a Salley Vickers’ fan. I found it a very interesting and fresh way of looking at the Oedipus myth. I felt the authour almost knew Freud from her telling of his last days.

  6. Spencer (April 29, 2009 at 4:23 am) :

    I really enjoyed this book and the whole approach to retelling such an overtold myth. There was a suspense to it, even. I think that Salley Vickers is a great writer (this is my first book of hers).

  7. Gene Sucov (January 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm) :

    i agree with all of the praise for Salley Vicker’s work, and especially for this book.
    But, I am perturbed by her choice of title.
    When I studied Latin a long, long time ago,
    the phrase “three roads meet” translates into “tri-via”, that is, “trivia”. I was taught that it came to mean, in English, “something of no or little value”

  8. Gene Sucov (January 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm) :

    Is there a hidden message from the author in this choice of title?

  9. Book review: Where Three Roads Meet – Salley Vickers « Classically Inclined (September 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm) :

    [...] book I want to discuss in this post is Salley Vickers’ Where Three Roads Meet, which takes on the myth of Oedipus in a really interesting way. You can’t think of Oedipus [...]

  10. Blog Hop: The Novel Project | Alex Lockwood (December 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm) :

    [...] history of particular moments and emotions, particularly in relation to psychoanalysis, so perhaps Sally Vickers’ Where Three Roads Meet, but also I’d like to think that it’s aspiring to the likes of Tom McCarthy’s C [...]

  11. kitchen islands (October 18, 2013 at 2:50 am) :

    Hi! I know this is sort of off-topic however I needded to ask.
    Does operating a well-established blog such as yours
    require a lot of work? I’m completely new to writing
    a blog but I do write in my diary everyday.
    I’d loke tto start a blog sso I can share my personal experience and views online.

    Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tils
    for new aspiring blog owners. Apprecioate it!

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

To join in the discussion, please use the form below.