“There are different kinds of memory, conscious and unconscious. There are memories that the conscious mind goes over repeatedly, that are recalled, observed, caught like a snapshot of the time, and oneself in it, one of the figures in the picture. Memories like these become like history, fact-filed for recall, detached from emotion. But there are others that come back without conscious thought and that are experienced again, more or less vividly, like dream versions of themselves.”
On a cold morning in January 1961, eight-year-old Anna’s mother watched her mother disappear into the fog.
Later she was told that her mother would not be coming home again. She was dead, after her car apparently skidded on black ice on the road to London.
Later the same day a sensational story broke on the evening news. A Russian spy ring had been uncovered in London and several arrests had been made. Arrests of seemingly ordinary people who had lead double lives and carried extraordinary secrets.
Anna and her elder brother Peter were told little about their mother’s death, they didn’t attend her funeral and they were never taken to her grave. Was there father trying to protect them, or was it something else?
The two children thought it was something else. They linked the disappearance of their mother – a German refugee – with the spy case.
They begin their own investgation. At first Peter takes the lead, but later it is Anna.
It would be unfair to say more than that about the plot, but there is much more to be said about the book.
It grips from the first page and doesn’t let go.
The story shifts between periods and perspectives. It is sometimes a little difficult to keep track, but it serves the author well as she recreates England in the Cold War and the world that Anna sees just perfectly.
Georgina Harding writes wonderful prose and she shows great skill in creating characters who are utterly believable but also, ultimately, unknowable.
The themes are fascinating and well explored there are so many intriguing details.
It all adds up to a brilliant second novel!