by Claire Fuller
Started: 21 August 2016
Finished: 28 August 2016
Whenever I come across novels with unconventional childhoods and familial relationships I’m always excited to see where they will go. I loved where Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days took me and I didn’t want it to end.
The novel’s protagonist is Peggy in the present and the past, seamlessly illustrating how she is struggling to cope back at home with her mother, and the reasons why she is struggling to cope. We watch as her father takes her to a forest in Europe and introduces her to a new way of living, convincing her that it’s the only way to survive. However the mystery of what happened in the forest and how Peggy became the Peggy of the present is slowly uncovered.
I really loved Peggy, she was a wonderful character and very convincing. I liked how her mood towards the world around her and her father was constantly changing, from being excited and accepting the forest and to rebelling and hating the situation she found herself in. Although for a lot of the novel it was difficult to figure out her age, you could see her develop throughout the novel through her childhood into becoming a young woman. I enjoyed how Fuller explored Peggy’s character and her relationship with her father.
I found it very difficult to like either of her parents, however I can’t imagine we were supposed to like them that much anyway. That being said, I did feel sorry for them, especially towards the end of the novel. Both parents arguable had good intentions but they were misplaced and born of selfishness. However their desperation to make things right or had that moment of realisation you can’t help but slightly want it to work out for them, even though you know there’s a better way out. I think where there aren’t many characters in the novel you can’t help but form attachments and connections as otherwise it would be difficult to read, additionally reading from Peggy’s perspective somewhat softens your view of her father sometimes.
The novel was a little slow to start with, starting in the present and going back to how it all happened. Whilst the chapters in the present day were interesting and added good pace to the novel as it progressed, it would have been nice to have the fact she left the forest kept from the reader a little longer. However that isn’t to say you have all the answers straight away because that isn’t the case at all, and the novel was still gripping. I found once Peggy and her father were in the forest the pages flew by a lot faster and I was a lot more interested in the story itself, rather than just the characters. Their life in the forest and establishing a routine was very interesting to read which didn’t make the repetitiveness of some of the scenes feel like a chore to read.
Without giving away any spoilers the ending twist was heartbreaking and not one I really saw coming. It’s rare that I will literally gasp at a twist, but Fuller managed to tear it from my lips and give me goosebumps in the final chapter. However I would have liked to see some more of Peggy’s recovery and development outside of the forest, although even without that all the loose ends in terms of plot were tied up.
Overall, Our Endless Numbered Days was a beautiful novel and one I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Although it looks like it took me a while to read, it only took me two sittings (it’s just they were unfortunately interrupted!). This was a wonderful debut novel and I can’t wait to see more of Fuller’s work in the future.