An understated series of stories by Moore—whose first novel, The Lighthouse, was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize—captures facets of loss and obligation.
Set in empty homes, isolated fortresses, and seaside cottages, these stories use physical spaces as echo chambers of memory—of what once was or what might have been. In and out of them, women and girls (plus two male protagonists) skirt life’s darkest forces, particularly the weight of birth, death, and infidelity. In "Seclusion," Maureen, once a desired young woman, contends with onslaughts of forgetfulness and fearful isolation—until she attempts to seize control by stealing a reminder of her past in her daughter’s old bedroom. "Late" finds a middle-aged woman queasily rushing to work after a cocktail-fueled evening with her deadbeat husband, taking stock of her marriage before returning that evening to a house that has been irrevocably changed. "Humming and Pinging" poignantly explores the sadness of infidelity from a child's perspective, while the meditative title story, which features a woman packing up her family home, shows that beneath the well-manicured lawns and tar soap–scented judgments of her childhood, more complicated secrets lurk. There’s a sense of unmet expectations inherent in these stories—a version of the imagined past or present that juts up against reality, creating a quiet sense of sadness that dogs these characters. As they navigate their lives, Moore slowly unearths their essential fears, regrets, and unmet desires, producing a subdued and beautiful feeling of yearning that leaves the reader ruminating long after the final page.
A masterful collection.