Monday, March 30, 2015

Our Endless Numbered Days - Clair Fuller

My review of Clair Fuller's Endless Numbered Days first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy.

First line: "This morning I found a black-and-white photograph of my father at the back of the bureau drawer."

Claire Fuller's beautifully tragic debut novel is a survivalist's story. Peggy, the book's narrator, is eight years old when her father, James, kidnaps her from their London home and takes her to a crumbling cabin deep in the woods. The Cold War rages and James tells her the rest of the world has been destroyed.

Father and daughter work tirelessly to make the ramshackle hut a home: repairing, hunting, fishing, gardening. Fuller's depiction of the pair's life is far from bucolic, however. James is unpredictable and can leave his young daughter shaken and terrified by his explosive outbursts. Always obsessed with survivalism, James meticulously calculates the store of supplies they will need for the winter, but his estimates fall short and they struggle, barely making it through the treacherously cold and potentially deadly months.

Believing for years that no one else is alive, Peggy is startled when she senses the presence of another person during her daily forest wanderings. Finally encountering this third survivor rocks the foundation of the life she and James have so arduously labored to maintain... to survive.

Our Endless Numbered Days is sure to leave readers gloriously disquieted. The perspective of a young, naïve narrator creates both an uncertainty in her reliability and empathy for her helplessness. The unsettling plot twists infuse the story with rich psychological suspense. Through them, Fuller strikes horror, but she also raises hope. This surprisingly satisfying dichotomy will survive in readers' hearts and minds long after the fate of Peggy and James has been revealed.

Our Endless Numbered Days is available in trade paperback (ISBN: 978-1941040010) from Tin House Books.

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