These two novellas are moving deep studies of consciousness, life and death. The novice nun Oliva’s immediate consciousness is of the power play of the diverse personalities of her fellow nuns and the religious authorities, and the effect of this on the living of her own life. The painter holds up a mirror to Oliva. Ottavia chooses freedom but Oliva, weakly or obediently, declines life.
After death, Erik Satie reminisces in an attempt to film his best memory from a rich and varied life. `It is always more enriching to imagine than to experience’, Satie concludes (page 313). Richard Skinner develops an amazingly detailed extensive imagining of what Satie might have imagined. The myriad selective ramblings of our own consciousness are similarly the background noise to our living, setting the scene to our lives.