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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Not For The Squeamish

Our Endless Numbered Days - Claire Fuller

Convinced that the world is going to be destroyed in some apocalyptic scenario, eight-year-old Peggy's father takes her to a forest wilderness in Bavaria where he convinces her that they are the last two people left alive.

 

For the next nine years their life is one of bare subsistence - growing vegetables, trapping small animals, eating acorns . Without sufficient clothing or tools, they soon turn into half-wild creatures themselves, descending eventually  into outright madness that ends in terrible violence.

 

This is a story of psychological and physical abuse and the victim is a child. Consequently, I found it extremely hard going.  Moreover, the way the book was written contributed to the difficulty. There's a great deal of jumping about between the past and the present for what seemed to me to be little significant gain in terms of narrative force. There is also a good deal of  extended description of nature which I strongly suspect the author enjoyed a good deal more than I did.

 

A powerful novel with a compelling premise, Our Endless Numbered Days is a tremendously brave piece of writing  - but it's not for the squeamish. I was mightily relieved when I reached the end.