What if--by a stroke of fortune--you could start afresh, could wipe away that catastrophic blunder in your past? And to what lengths would you go to establish that in fact you'd done nothing wrong at all? After an accident robs Hazel of three years' worth of memory, just such an opportunity is granted to her ex-boyfriend Jonathan. What follows in Margot Livesey's The Missing World is a brilliant inverted love story: one man's desperate attempts to realize and rationalize a lie, and a woman's harrowing attempts to recognize the truth.
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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 fulfillment 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 P.D. 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 From the Publisher:
"A catchy what-if idea lies at the heart of The Missing World, an enthralling new novel by Margot Livesey, who, to judge from her previous novels, Homework and Criminals, seems fascinated by the narrow borders dividing madness from sanity, goodness from evil."
-- New York Times
"Darkly humorous...A Shakespearean comedy with Murdochian overtones."
-- The New Yorker
"Delicate & terrifying...a modern-day Rebecca"
-- Gail Caldwell, Boston Globe Book Review
"A page-turner: suspenseful, crisp, beautifully crafted...Livesey is a riveting storyteller, as masterful as Patricia Highsmith or Ruth Rendell."
-- Julie Brickman, San Diego Union-Tribune
"Engrossing...Doors are always opening and closing in the big house Livesey calls London, and someone new is always walking through."
-- David Kirby, Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Creepy & touching"
-- Jeff Giles, Newsweek
"Illuminating, darkly funny, and beautifully written...As with the works of Graham Swift and Ian McEwan, The Missing World combines splendidly intelligent, suspenseful plotting with an astringent moral sensibility."
-- Andrea Barrett
"Clever, lively, sometimes hilarious...The last line is a shocker that made this reader sit up with a jolt."
-- Susie Linfield, Los Angeles Times
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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. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0099284359