“Whenever an accident or natural disaster occurs from which bodies may never be recovered, there is always somebody for whom it becomes a chance to disappear. There is always somebody who, believing that vanishing from one life is the way to enter a better one, will choose to be presumed among the missing; somebody who would rather be thought dead than have to say ‘I’m leaving you.'”
A pregnant woman, believed killed in a bridge accident in the Scottish Highlands, seizes her chance to disappear from her uncaring husband. Determined to safeguard her baby’s future and reinvent herself, she befriends illegal immigrant Silva, whose husband Stefan and daughter Anna, as she alone knows, have died in her place. As the bridge is rebuilt, the two women build a precarious existence in a makeshift home by the river. While Silva waits for Stefan and Anna’s return, and the pregnant woman awaits the birth of her child, they are helped by the boatman, Ron, whose devotion to them masks his guilt for a past disaster for which he must atone.
Each of them having crossed some bridge in retreat from the world, each seeking an ever-elusive peace of mind and struggling with displacement and grief, together the three exiles conjure an unstable mix of trust and distrust, compounded by love and jealousy, both parental and sexual. With the discovery of Stefan’s and Anna’s bodies in the river, the tension in their uneasy triangle mounts inexorably and unbearably. With the birth of the new baby only days, then hours away, it finally breaks.
"This remarkable novel has an abundance of suspense at its core, put forth in beautiful prose that all but glows on the page…. The author keeps a jittery tension going as the novel spins toward its violent, grand-scaled finale. Like most thrillers with a literary bent, this one spends time with the thoughts and feelings of the characters. In lesser hands, this can be stultifying, especially if the people aren’t that interesting. But these two women have fascinating inner lives, and Joss details them in vivid, propulsive language." (Booklist)
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Transfixing book, superb performances
- Lisa Taylor