|Pages/Publication Date:||287 / 2012|
This novel from the author of Birdsong and A Week in December is actually five books in one. In World War II Poland, a young prisoner closes his eyes and pictures going to bat on a sunlit English cricket field. Across the yard of a Victorian poorhouse, a man is too ashamed to acknowledge the son he gave away. In a 19th-century French village, an old servant understands—suddenly and with awe—the meaning of the Bible story her master is reading to her. On a summer evening in the Catskills in 1971, a skinny girl steps out of a Chevy with a guitar and with a song that will send shivers through her listeners. And a few years from now, in Italy, a gifted scientist discovers links between time and the human brain, and between her lover's novel and his life. Through these exquisitely drawn characters and their relationships, Sebastian Faulks shows that occasions of understanding between humans are what define us, and that those moments, however fluid, are what endures.
"Sebastian Faulks's fine new novel does not, at first glance, look like a novel at all—more like a gathering of stories, each one yielding a new character. Only gradually do we realize how these many voices, so far apart in time and place, fuse together and overlap, like songs on an album, to form a stirring and delicate whole. One of them speaks of merging 'the flame and the facts,' our ardent yearnings with the hard detail of ordinary life. In Faulks's masterful hands, fact and flame become one."—The New Yorker