Published by Tin House Books on March 17, 2015
Genres: Literary Fiction
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When Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old, her survivalist father, James, takes her from her London home to a dilapidated cabin in the woods. One night, after a storm rocks their valley, he tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed and that they are the only two humans left. For the next nine years, they eke out a meager existence, hauling water from the river, growing vegetables, and trapping small game. Peggy spends her days checking her traps and practicing La Campanella on the silent piano carefully built by her father until a shocking discovery leads her back to the civilization she thought had been annihilated.
When the novel opens, 17-year old Peggy is adjusting to life at home with her mother and the younger brother she didn’t know she had. Fuller expertly weaves together two narrative threads as teenage Peggy struggles with her new life and tells the story of her years in the wilderness. Piece by intricate piece, the reader learns the truth behind the events that led to James and Peggy’s flight from London and, finally, how Peggy found the courage to leave the cabin.
This book, you guys. It pulled me in, refused to let me go, and smashed me on the rocks. When I finished reading, I wasn’t sure for a moment whether I loved or hated it. (Spoiler: I decided I loved it.) This might be an odd comparison, but it reminded me of how I reacted to the ending of Gone Girl. It felt like a punch in the gut, but it was also kind of genius.
Our Endless Numbered Days is an incredible read, and I think readers are going to have strong reactions to it. It would make an excellent book club pick. It’s compelling, and it portrays relationships — husband/wife, mother/daughter, father/daughter — in really nuanced ways, with secrets hiding just beneath the surface. I think what impressed me the most was Fuller’s ability to pull strings so masterfully that you don’t even know she’s doing it.
Of course, there was another thing that I loved about this book. The title is inspired by the Iron & Wine album of the same name! Fuller says that she listened to a lot of Sam Beam while writing this book, and I think the backwoodsy lilt shows through in her writing. Iron & Wine is one of my favorite bands, and I decided to listen to their music while I read; it was a great fit! I couldn’t help making a Spotify playlist of songs that go well with the book, including La Campanella. Check it out! Because you need to be listening to Such Great Heights when you read the line about how the trees “look perfect from far away.”
Bottom line: Read Clair Fuller, listen to Iron & Wine. You will thank me.
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