Six Reasons why you should read Our Endless Numbered Days
Our first Waterstones Book Club title of the year, Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, is a mix of enchanting prose, suspense and domestic drama that will break your heart.
It is a post-apocalyptic novel with a twist
Is it just me, or does that phrase just sound great? It may be because the Christmas season has just ended, but anything ‘with a twist’ sounds like a cocktail: “I’ll have a post-apocalypse with a twist please”. It sounds eminently delicious, edgy, dark, unusual and strong. All of which could be applied to the novel Our Endless Numbered Days. This is the kind of book that, like a great cocktail, mixes the pleasurable with the dangerous to brilliant effect. It will make you want to consume the whole thing in one sitting. And like a strong Bloody Mary, the feeling will stay with you for a very long time.
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It is 1976 and eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat lives in London with her parents: a concert pianist mother, and a paranoid, survivalist father. Apart from the question, “I wonder how those two make it work?” – so far, so ordinary. But then the outdoors-y father, who likes to go on retreats with his friends to practice End of The World protocol, becomes convinced the world is genuinely about to end, any second. After a disagreement with his wife, he takes Peggy (and by ‘takes’, we mean ‘abducts’) to a remote, hovel of a cabin, somewhere in rural Mainland Europe, the exact location of which is not initially made clear. Is this a terrifying case of Cold War paranoia or a very sensible and perspicacious father planning for the apocalypse? Well… I’m hardly going to tell you the answer, am I?
Page-turner is an understatement
There is a lightness and gentleness to the writing, but once you start, you will struggle to tear yourself away. It is masterfully plotted. The suspense is expertly controlled. And the creepiness cranks up, notch by notch, until it becomes increasingly difficult to put the book down. Every chapter will fill you with intrigue and dread – your concern for Peggy will mount with every sentence. You will find yourself, moon-eyed, on the edge of your seat, whipping the pages back as your heart beats faster and faster (even in the beautiful, quiet sections).
There are beautiful, quiet sections too
If you enjoy the exploration of natural landscapes within books – you will love Our Endless Numbered Days. As Peggy and her father make their life in the middle of nowhere, the descriptions of the wilderness will enchant you (while the plot keeps you hooked). Fuller has a talent for evocative prose that is inventive but not excessively ornamented. It adds a slightly other-worldly element, at times, to the story, which contributes wonderfully to the overall unease.
Disclaimer: you need to be able to stomach hunting and killing
My only warning is for the very faint at heart as living it rough in the wilderness means no supermarket or corner shop (gasp, I know!) and…the resulting foraging and hunting may…make some a little squeamish. But of course, a little blood and guts only all adds to the atmosphere and the tension… and the fear.
It is a heart-breaking story
This book will draw you in, keep you gripped until finally, it breaks your heart. It is surprising and touching. The fact Peggy is so young is a constant source of astonishment – her ability to handle the situation is both impressive and sad. It is a tale of a lost childhood – but one of resilience and strength too.