Published: 31st December 2015
1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother’s grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change. Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared. Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.
Thank you to Penguin for kindly sending me a review copy.
The narrative begins with Peggy returning home to her mother after being kept in a countryside cabin by her father for several years. As she remembers the time she spent away from the outside world, the readers dive into her secret life with discussions about the war, to hunting squirrels to the special bond she has with the man who kept her hidden. It was an interesting opening first few chapters, I was completely hooked on the plot which may have something to do with the time period but nevertheless, I was intrigued to see what would happen..
“I couldn’t have explained why, but even then I knew Oliver Hannington was dangerous.”
The relationship between her father and Oliver is quite odd and hushed. I suspected that he was one of the reasons why Peggy’s father took her away, none of their argument was explained, nothing was. Readers were kept pondering for chapters on end and when Peggy’s father began to attempt to make a piano for her, I questioned his choice in taking her away in the first place. But that’s the beauty of a thriller – it’s filled of questions which may never be answered.
“We should have been gathering and storing food and wood for the winter and, too late, we discovered that music could not sustain us.”
There wasn’t a lot of information given about the little details of the friendship between Oliver and Peggy’s father but it is after an argument between the two men that the adventure truly kicks in. The plot itself is quite description heavy which some readers will enjoy and others won’t – for me, it was a mixture of the two because as much as I was intrigued by Clare’s beautiful descriptive words, I also wanted more detailed conversations from Peggy and her father.
“…there was no one left in the world but the two of us.”
Overall, I was quite disappointed by the book – I didn’t feel captured by the plot at all and despite hearing incredible things about it, it sadly didn’t live up to the expectations which I had. I did, however, enjoy the powerful descriptions – Clare does wonders when describing a fictional place around the characters. Despite this book not being for me, that is just my opinion; you may love it.