‘I went over to the other side of the Fluss,’ he said. Steady drips of water punctuated his words with a hiss each time they dropped on to the hotplate. ‘To see the damage from the storm. It’s worse than I imagined.’ He sniffed. ‘The rest of the world has gone.’ That’s how he said it; just like that, matter-of-fact.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller is another ones of those books that I find difficult to put into one category. It’s part post apocalyptic survival, part Fairytale, part family drama. It’s nostalgic, dark, romantic and sordid. It’s brilliant and I almost can’t believe that it’s a debut.
Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her father announces that they are going on holiday while her mother is away. He takes her from London to a remote cabin in the forests of Germany, then tells her a storm has washed away the rest of the world. Believing her mother to be dead, and too scared to cross the river to explore the forest beyond, she spends the next nine years with only her father and his lies for company.
Told entirely through Peggy’s eyes, and switching between London in 1985, when Peggy has returned home, and her nine years in the forest, the book has an incredibly nostalgic feel. Peggy is so cut off from life that by her own admission there are parts of her that she has no name for, and some more horrifying events that we can get only the briefest mention of. The evidence is there; of her father’s descent into madness, his confusion over whether Peggy is his daughter or his wife, Peggy’s own way of coping with life in the cabin. But we’re never explicitly told and, like Peggy’s mother Ute, can only piece together the horrors of those nine years after they’ve ended.
Honestly, it feels like a book that should be considered an instant classic. It was absolutely incredible.
I received an early copy of Our Endless Numbered Days through Netgalley.