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Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit & Crimson Shore (www.gillianhamer.com)
What we thought: It's not often I get so immersed in a novel that I finish it in just a few days, and think about it when I don't have my nose buried in its page. When it happens I feel like standing up at the end and giving the book a well deserved round of applause - and if you could see me now, having come to the end of Our Endless Numbered Days, I'm on my feet and clapping vigorously.
Having read the blurb about the book and the author, I'm amazed to discover this is a debut novel. It has the charm, intelligence and talent of a writer comfortable with her own skill and passionate about the art of storytelling. It has the deftness and depth of Harper Lee, with all the darkness of William Golding. It is a truly memorable read.
Our narrator, Peggy Hillcoat, is eight when the story begins. Living in North London with her musician mother and eccentric father, Peggy's childhood is full of wonderful memories and summer camping trips - until the moment her life changes forever. What starts as a holiday adventure, becomes a journey of confusion and terror - where a wooden hut in the forest, a toy piano that makes music but no sound, and a mysterious stranger called Reuben, are the only things to ground her, As days stretch into weeks, and months into years, Peggy's story of survival will stretch your emotions to their limits.
At the end of the book, I found it hard to walk away from Peggy. I wanted to know where her life took her, how she copes with her past, and how the events of the book shape her future. Above all, I wish her well.
There's something magical about a child narrator when it's done right. And have no doubt this is one magical novel. Highly recommended.
You’ll enjoy this if you like: V.C Andrews, William Golding, Craig Silvey.
Avoid if you don’t like: Mistrust, betrayal and heart-rending children's stories.
Ideal accompaniments: Rabbit stew with oatmeal dumplings, washed down with nettle tea.
Genre: Literary Fiction.