I don’t know what I expected from this book. I knew the beginning and I knew the end. The mystery was the bit in the middle. It’s 1976 and 8-year-old Peggy Hillcoat is stuck in between worlds; her mother is a famous German pianist and her father is younger and English. A chance meeting lead to their meeting and marriage, and eventually Peggy. Her mother teaches her the classics and German, her father teaches her survivalist skills. One day, her father takes her to a remote European forest; they walk for days, burn their passports and arrive at a cabin. They are the last people on earth.
The book opens in 1985 with Peggy in her family home with her mother. So … it wasn’t the end of the world. She wasn’t one of the last two people on the face of the planet. We relish in the murky unknown in the middle. The book is told in a series of flash backs; Peggy at home with her mother and in the cabin with her father. The suspense of the book comes from the endless number of questions that go unanswered because Peggy doesn’t question her father.
Peggy simply does as she is told, becoming a solider for her father and feeding into his delusion. They build their own routine and way of life. It’s a mixture of the past and the terrible present. They build a soundless piano out of wood so Peggy can practise what her mother taught her while they deplete the forest of food. It’s a psychological and thrilling book of uncertainty. You read it with no idea where it’s going or how it can possibly end. But we know how it ends. But how did she get home? And where is her father? I was so hungry for the answer and it was oh so satisfying.