Published by Tin House Books on March 17, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Source: I borrowed this book from a friend.
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Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons. When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and begins a search for their owner, she unwittingly unravels the series of events that brought her to the woods and, in doing so, discovers the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she thought she’d lost. After Peggy's return to civilization, her mother begins to learn the truth of her escape, of what happened to James on the last night out in the woods, and of the secret that Peggy has carried with her ever since.
Good God. This book. You know, it starts off fine. The family is a little odd. Survivalist father who takes his hobby more seriously than most of his buddies. Concert pianist mom who suddenly decides to go back on tour. And then…and then…the situation gets worse and worse from there. Downright harrowing in many places.
The novel jumps back and forth between Peggy’s present (after she escapes from the forest) and her past, until the two timelines finally meet. It gives a strangely quiet portrayal of the way a child might deal with terrifying circumstances. I’m not sure “quiet” is the exact word I want, but there are so many times when Fuller leaves details unsaid and to be honest, it’s a blessing. The reader is left to trust her gut to fill in the blanks, and is thankful that this child narrator is offering a somewhat vague memory.
This is one of those posts where I find myself having to be very, very careful not to give too much away. But I need to talk about it! Thankfully, The Socratic Salon will be breaking down the book this Wednesday with spoilers galore. If you’ve read Our Endless Numbered Days (or don’t mind spoilers) we’d love to have you discuss it with us this week.
In the meantime, we’re hosting a spoiler-free Twitter chat with the author, Claire Fuller, tonight at 6:00 Central (7:00 Eastern). Follow the hashtag #TSSEndless (I’ll be using Tweetchat) to join in the fun!