“A bleak tale, beautifully told, about the one burden we must all, as human beings, survive: love.”—Sarah Vine, The Times [UK]
It opens in a small Irish town in the 1960s with the accidental death of a teenage boy who commits one final, heartrending act of love.
Then: three brilliantly realized voices—the boy’s mother, his older sister, a German expat neighbor—speak the story into existence. Their descriptions of the aftermath of the boy’s death mix with meditations and conversations about other loves tested, twisted, or lost—in the past and forward, through the next forty years—as they struggle to make sense of tragedy: the boy’s, their own, their countries’.
In Sissy, the mother, we see how the desperate love of her husband and the delicate bravery of her daughter lure her away from her profound grief. In Thomas—“the German” to his neighbors—we see a man who knows all too well that “after a tragedy, many survivors are lost.” In Olivia, the boy’s sister, we see someone who remains intent on embracing the “weapon of memory.”
These voices speak with piercing emotion and intellect and, in Josephine Hart’s deft hands, they describe whole lives. Moment by moment we come to understand how these men and women are shaped in essential ways by the boy’s death, by their inherent characters, and by what they learn from one another about loss and love—and what it takes to bear them both.
Josephine Hart is the best-selling author of Damage, Sin, Oblivion, The Stillest Day, and The Reconstructionist. Her work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. She lives in London with her husband, Maurice Saatchi, and their two sons.