Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller ★★

IMG_74661Our Endless Numbered Days follows eight year old Peggy as she is taken by her father to live in a cabin in a remote European forest. Here Peggy is told that her mother and the rest of the world have been destroyed; her and her father are the only two survivors. The novel is told in flashback, as we are first introduced to seventeen year old Peggy who is back at home in London with her mum, trying to adjust into normal life, but we also follow young Peggy as she is taken away, and her and her father learn to survive in the forest, isolated from the rest of the world. Throughout the novel the reader is constantly wondering what the truth it, how Peggy has ended up back in London, and what happened to her out in the wilderness.

I was excited about reading this novel; I had read that it was supposed to be a beautiful yet sinister and dark tale, something resembling a grownup fairy tale. Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed. While the novel dealt with some incredibly serious and interesting topics, and there were moments of insight and promise throughout, I felt the exploration of these themes to be unbelievable and completely unsatisfying. Furthermore, there was not much drive to the plot, and in moments of blatantly intended suspense, I found myself largely uninterested, and has to push myself to keep reading. I also had problems with the ending of the novel, finding it to be in part predictable, and in part unnecessarily shocking and gaudy.

I did not particularly enjoy reading about the characters in the novel, finding them to be underdeveloped and ultimately unbelievable. I wanted to learn so much more about Peggy as she was growing up in the cabin in the forest, however I felt I did not get much of an insight into her thoughts or personality at all. I found Peggy’s father to be the most interesting character; his struggle with mental illness and consequent behaviour was intriguing. Nevertheless, I wanted more of a psychological insight into this, and was left unsatisfied.

The writing in the novel was by far its best aspect. The prose was extremely lyrical, and there were many beautiful moments where Fuller described the forest and the mountains in which Peggy and her father lived, as well as descriptions of the food they foraged or the hunger they endured, especially during the winter months. There were also some wonderfully dark and believable moments and I got a real sense of the atmosphere that Fuller was trying to create, and that I had hoped for.

This novel was full of promise, the setting and the themes being interesting and providing a great basis for a rich and insightful novel. However, it unfortunately fell short. I felt the introduction of such serious topics without much exploration frustrating, and I really didn’t appreciate them being introduced purely for the shock factor. Nevertheless there were moments of wonderful writing and scenic descriptions throughout; I can imagine how this novel could have been so much better than it was.

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