4 out of 5 stars

Until the age of eight, Peggy had had a lovely childhood. She spends the summer camping with her father, playing some of her favourite records and listening to her musician mother play the grand piano. This was not going to last though as her father had other ideas for their future. He was convinced that the world as they knew it was about to end, and he had been preparing for this for a long while.

One day, he takes Peggy from their London home and he makes the trip to a remote Bavarian forest to a remote hut that is to become their new home. Thinking it is an adventure, Peggy is happy to go along; they start stockpiling for the coming winter and decide to make a piano keyboard so she can still practice. He forbids her from going over the river and tells her that the world she once knew and loved was gone.

Her life would never be the same again.

I wasn’t really aware of this book until the author followed me on Twitter one day. Found a copy of this book a little later, stuck it on a shelf where it got buried and didn’t think any more about it. When I realised that she was coming to my local literary festival I dug it out and had the privilege of meeting her for the first time.

When I finally got around to picking this up last week, I hadn’t even read the blurb on this, so had no idea which direction it was going to go in. The narrative concentrates on her time in the forest with her father as they have a subsistence level of existence, collecting wood and foraging, and trying to grow a few crops. Every now and again there are flashbacks to the life that she once knew and was slowing fading from her memory. It had elements of The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, Room by Emma Donoghue and Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson, all combined into a surreal story that has warm moments but is ultimately quite chilling.

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