Monday, June 27, 2011

Read This Book #2

I must admit I don't read a lot of British fiction, contemporary or otherwise. I'm small-minded that way. I find it too stuffy, too cold, and yes, those British idiosyncrasies like single quotation marks for dialogue, Old World spellings and idioms (tyre, flat, lift, storeys) and the constant drinking of tea and biscuits with "Mum," are too precious for my taste. But when good crime fiction meets "literary" fiction, I'm helpless against it.

The novel opens with the protagonist Beatrice getting a call that her younger sister Tess is missing, and so she boards the first flight she can get from New York to London. Already I love the idea, since I'm a big fan of missing persons fiction, but as the story unfolds, strange surprises keep cropping up about her sister. One of the things I love is the way the author plays off opposites; Beatrice is the sensible, responsible sister while Tess is a bit of a Bohemian, but instead of treating this dichotomy in a simplistic fashion, Lupton shows the complexity and difficulty of the relationship.

Favorite line: "When I saw your strand of hair I knew that grief is love turned into an eternal missing."

Idiosyncrasies: The entire novel is written in an epistolary fashion, that is, as a letter written from Beatrice to her younger sister, Tess. At first this felt a bit awkward, but then I relaxed into it and saw how perfectly it gave the book shape and structure. There is also intrigue involving medical ethics that gives the novel an even broader social reach.

Bottom Line: One of the most gripping climaxes I've read in a long time. The mystery of what happened to her sister, and the lengths to which Beatrice is willing to go to find out, had me hooked. I sacrificed sleep to finish this one.