Page 129. " Avrilaceous freckles "
avrilaceous freckles
Public Domainavrilaceous freckles


Avrilaceous is not a word, unless you are Banvillaceous.

After some debate (see attached Google search), the general consensus is that the word has been coined by Banville to refer to Avril, whom the reader first meets on page 55. She is an incidental character who serves to illustrate the narrator's unreliable memory.

He remembers, dimly, her face 'was sprinkled all over with tiny freckles'. On page 129 the narrator refers to his own greying hair that is flecked with Avrilaceous freckles.  And on page 157, when a robin appears, he remembers that Avril's freckles reminded him of something else. 

Page 130. " enlargement of the nose known as rhinophyma (qv) or grog blossoms "



Rhinophyma, according to Medline Plus, is a large bulb-shaped, red-coloured nose once thought to be caused by heavy alcohol consumption, hence the name 'grog blossoms'. However it also occurs in teetotallers.  It is more common among men. 


qv stands for quod vide, a Latin phrase meaning 'which see' and denoting a cross-reference.

Page 130. " those last studies Bonnard made of himself "

Pierre Bonnard, a French painter maligned by Picasso as a second-rate artist, spent the last 25 years of his life painting studies of himself and of his house in Le Cannet near Cannes, France.

An exhibition of this period of work entitled The Late Interiors was held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009.  It was the first show dedicated solely to Bonnard's late interiors and still lifes. Forbes has a review.

Pierre Bonnard: Observing Nature


Page 136. " green-slimed concrete groynes "
Groyne in Sussex
Creative Commons AttributionGroyne in Sussex - Credit: Nick Lott

A groyne is built to defend against sea erosion of a beach and land by longshore drift.  Often made of timber, groynes can also be constructed from concrete.

Longshore Drift
Public DomainLongshore Drift - Credit: Yefi, Wikimedia

Page 142. " a small man in a Fair Isle jumper "

Fair Isle Jumper
GNU Free Documentation LicenseFair Isle Jumper - Credit: Scott Tankard
Fair Isle jumpers (sweaters) originally come from the remote island of the same name in the northeast of Scotland.  The sweaters are knitted in a traditional manner using several colours.  They were made popular by the dashing Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) in the 1920s.

Google Map


Page 147. " the Harris tweed "
Harris Tweed
Public DomainHarris Tweed - Credit: PKM

A woollen cloth originally handwoven on the Isle of Harris in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. In Ireland, a similar tweed is woven in Donegal.

Dan Brown's hero in The Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon, wears Harris Tweed, as does Agatha Christie's amateur detective, Miss Marple.