What if, by a stroke of fortune, you had the chance to start afresh and wipe away that catastrophic blunder in your past? How far would you go to establish that you were not to blame? When an accident robs Hazel of three years of memory, just such an opportunity is granted to Jonathan.
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Margot Livesey is an artist of alluring unease. Enter London through her looking glass, if you dare; once you do, it's doubtful you'll want to emerge. In her ruthlessly funny third novel, The Missing World , a modern Rapunzel is imprisoned in a none-too-tall Highbury house after losing much of her memory in an accident. Hazel's captor? The beekeeping insurance adjuster with whom she used to live. Jonathan is now determined to restore their relationship, even if he has to embalm it in lies: "Why am I doing this? he wondered, sitting on the edge of the bed. The answer perfumed the air, sweet as violets: because I can." Hazel's rescuers? Freddie, a black American roofer who would give anything "for a decent, ordinary phobia," and Charlotte, a rackety actress who's been on a sponging odyssey around London ever since her boyfriend left her and became a success: "Charlotte had perfected a look of keen interest when people insisted on telling her how well he was doing." And then there's Maud, who has her own reasons for keeping her best friend, Hazel, in the dark, and Mr. Early, an entirely bald designer of mannequin heads.
How these wildly different individuals converge is only one of The Missing World 's many exhilarations. Livesey slowly, tantalizingly has her characters reveal themselves as they bump up against reality. She also has an eye--and a perfect ear--for evasions and illusion. Jonathan is particularly adept at turning wish fulfilment into an extreme sport, convincing himself that subterfuge is the only way to go:
He wanted Hazel better, of course, but wasn't that like desiring his own banishment? What he really wanted was for her to recover not merely from the accident but from the delusions that had carried her away from him.
Energy, as Blake puts it, is eternal delight, and with its plethora of farcical entrances and exits, The Missing World has energy to burn. Yet just as often Livesey conquers by oddball understatement. Emerging from her coma, Hazel "opened her eyes and gazed up at the four of them. The colour of her irises had deepened, as if the long twilight of the last week had taken up permanent residence in her brain." With her predilection for the narrative ambush, Livesey has been likened to PD James and Patricia Highsmith--but she may even exceed these grandes dames in this brilliant exploration of where devotion ends and danger begins. --Kerry Fried, Amazon.comReview:
"Adroitly paced, meticulously plotted, and increasingly suspenseful, the novel transcends its genre as psychological thriller. Livesey's characterizations are rich and resonant, imbuing the narrative with integrity and complexity. Once again, she has written a book that begs to be read in one sitting, and rewards the reader with insights into the hidden wellsprings of human behavior." --"Publishers Weekly "From the Hardcover edition.
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Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. No.1 BESTSELLERS - great prices, friendly customer service â€" all orders are dispatched next working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000479117
Book Description Penguin Group (USA) Incorporate, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099284359
Book Description Penguin Group (USA) Incorporate, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0099284359