* CONTAINS SPOILERS
When she is eight years old, Peggy Hillcoat’s father whisks her away to a mysterious mountain-side forest to live in a run-down cabin in complete isolation. He tells Peggy that the world has ended and her mother is dead; Peggy believes him. As she grows up, Peggy and her father enjoy the simplicity of forest living, yet both cling to music and in particular, a music sheet of Liszt’s La Campanella, as some last remnant of their previous lives. Peggy even teaches herself to play the song soundlessly on a makeshift piano. After a few winters of near starvation, Peggy notices that her father is starting to become unhinged and openly share his fatalistic thoughts with her. She retreats to the forest to be alone, but is startled to discover there is someone else in the forest and he has been watching Peggy and her father.
Our Endless Numbered Days moves back and forth between Peggy’s time on the mountain and her family home in London where she is adjusting after being missing for nine years. A real page-turner, you can’t help being caught up in Peggy’s tense and emotional story. I couldn’t read the book fast enough.
I wish there were more details about how Peggy moved on with her life, but the story ends with a little surprise and I appreciate how logical it was to end the book here.
I probably read the first half of Our Endless Numbered Days gnashing my teeth because I was so enraged at this idiot father who kidnapped his daughter and stole her childhood. However, Peggy impressed me with her emotional maturity and by always keeping her head on straight even if she didn’t always understand what was going on. She found beauty and joy in the world despite the loneliness and fear in her heart, and her narration was often tragically poetic. I agree with other readers who found this book haunting and utterly unforgettable.
NOTE: I received a copy of Our Endless Numbered Days with much thanks to House of Anansi, but this in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in my review.