The haunting tale of a severed bond between father and daughter.
This captivating debut novel tells the story of Marc, kidnapped and held prisoner in Pakistan. At first, he is questioned by his captor in what seems to be an effort to uncover details that might aid in the collecting of a ransom. Soon, however, the line of questioning morphs: the interrogator, known as Josephine, asks Marc to tell her the story of his daughter’s past life, uncovering such traumas as the time he forgot himself and kissed her when she was 13. In exchange, Josephine offers stories of his daughter’s future life, a life that could have been had she not died in a violent attack—or so we are, at first, led to believe. In Josephine’s stories, Marc is not abducted in Pakistan; Marc’s daughter, Claire, who once chose to live a life without her parents, is traveling across North America to see her dying father, to whom she has not spoken in 15 years. On her way, Claire picks up a hitchhiker named Genevieve who in turn tells Claire stories of the life Marc could have led in the years since father and daughter stopped speaking. These stories, which are stories within Josephine’s, give parallel details to those Marc is hearing in his cell; for example, a song that appears in one—"Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell—will appear in both. In this way, the line between real and unreal blurs, and the Claire of Josephine’s stories materializes. While the truth may never be totally clear, the takeaway is that regardless of distance by death or estrangement, Marc and Claire are desperate to know one another’s stories and comforted by the life the other may have led. Lowe’s prose is evocative, the plot gripping, and the attachment that reaches across the alienation between these characters reaches out to the reader as well.
A story about storytelling, stirring and effective.