If I am not very much mistaken, my sister bought "Our Endless Numbered Days" by Claire Fuller at The Little Ripon Bookshop, a must-visit every time we are in town. You can find the bookshop's website here.
This is only the 6th book I have read so far this year (not counting one I have started earlier this week on my kindle but soon deleted, as it was unbearably daft), but I can already tell that it will be among those - if not THE one - to impress me most of all my 2017 reads.
What is it about?
In the mid-1970s, Peggy is 8 years old and lives in London with her mother Ute, a famous German concert pianist, and her father James, her young husband who is content to live off Ute's money and spend most of his time with a group of friends. The group are Survivalists or Retreaters, believing nuclear war with the Soviets is imminent, and the world as we know it will end. They talk about fallout shelters, provisions, regions of Earth that could provide relative safety and the means to survive by living off the land, but talk is all they do - with the exception of James. He does indeed set up a shelter in his cellar, filling it with all sorts of provisions, making endless lists of things needed.
When Ute leaves for a concert tour, James tells Peggy they are going away, too - on a holiday.
Peggy soon understands that this is no ordinary holiday: Her father takes her to a remote cabin in the woods of a mountainous region in Germany, never to return home again.
For the next 9 years, all Peggy knows is the forest around the cabin. She and her father live in complete absence of any communication with the outside world - in fact, James makes her believe the outside world, including her mother, has ceased to exist and they are the only two people left.
The book starts with Peggy being 17 years old, back in London with her mother and the little brother born after she was taken away from home. Therefore, the reader already knows she will somehow leave her life in the wilderness behind. The how and why is what the reader does not know until very near the end of the book.
I was certain of one aspect of the outcome pretty soon, but the story held me in its grip nonetheless, and I found it unputdownable at times. I liked Peggy and cared for her, and I am still not entirely sure about how to interpret what happens at the very end of the book.
"Our Endless Numbered Days" was Claire Fuller's first book, published in 2015. Her homepage is here, where you can find information about her, her books and her other work.