4.5 out of 5 stars
This book was recommended by Ella Berthoud (@ellaberthoud) and borrowed from Ottery St Mary library via Devon Libraries; and something I would not normally have picked up.
Peggy lives with her mother Ute, a well-known concert pianist, and her father James in London. Ute’s work as a pianist work takes her away. James met Ute through her work and now he does not work but he is part of group called The North London Retreaters who are concerned with the end of the world being caused by bombs.
Early on in the book James shows his obsessive nature by making survival food lists and making plans for their life in their shelter if London is bombed. One summer James and Ute have an argument whilst Ute is away, and James takes Peggy to ‘die Hutte’ a cabin in the Bavarian forest that James and Oliver who is another one of the retreaters have discussed going to if the world ends. When they have been there for a while James tells Peggy that her Mother and the rest of the world have gone and there is just them left and she must never go beyond the Grand Divide a view in the distance.
The book tells of Peggy’s life as she grows into a young woman and how Peggy becomes aware of a man who also lives in the forest called Reuben. The book is set over several years and tracks James and Peggy and the changes that happen to them living in solitude. The ending is riveting, and I could not put it down until I found out what happened to the trio, which is not how I thought it would be and I have thought a lot about it since.
Quite a dark read but it really stayed with me and the more I think about it the more I think I did enjoy it more than I thought, which surprised me. Thanks to Ella for the recommendation and for Claire for giving me a book to read that really stayed with me.