Wow! Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (March 17) was my stay up late ’til the wee hours read for me this year so far. It was riveting and anxiety inducing. The back and forth chapters between past and present didn’t confuse as one would think but enhanced the slow build up to the ending. Once again, no spoilers here. But can I talk about it with someone?!?
Peggy Hillcoat was eight years old when she and her moody and delusional father James left home. He became friends with the members of the North London Retreaters, men who believed the world was coming to an end. This union only made James more paranoid, so he made elaborate plans to set out to die Hütte “a magical, secret place in the forest”. While Peggy’s mother Ute was in Germany playing at a piano concert, James took Peggy on a trek to this little remote cabin. They would be survivalists. For nine years Peggy would endure the harsh winters, the lack of food, the confusion and temperamental companionship of her father. It wasn’t until she returned to London as a seventeen year-old, where she would finally piece together what the hell really happened.
And that’s all I can say about the story. But I can say it will be a favorite for me this year. Fuller’s writing is haunting and at the same time endearing. The way she was able to describe the feeling of hunger, hopelessness, fear, confusion-all the emotions you could possibly imagine with such clarity. It’s atmospheric and lyrical. I felt every feel Peggy went through and loved her child’s voice. I didn’t want to let go of her character and when I came to the last page I was sad for it to be over. As much as I dislike sequels and series, I need to know more!
One piece that I thought was beautifully mirrored with the story was La Campanella (The Little Bell) by Franz Liszt. Even though they live in a remote cabin away from civilization, James builds her a pretend piano where Peggy works on La Campanella everyday. It’s a piece her mother used to play and the sheet music is one of the only possessions James takes with him. Even though the song is sweet and light, it also has moody tones that build up and excite. I don’t know…it just made sense to me after reading the story and then listening to this performance.
*Thank you to Edelweiss and Tin House Books for the ARC. I was not required to review this book nor was I compensated for doing so on the blog.