This is a brilliant, searingly creepy, psychological thriller — reminiscent of A Rose for Emily. Though written in the third person, it is entirely told from one point of view and in a type of stream of consciousness. It’s rather like what it would be like if you wrote down every thought and memory that passed through your mind. Everything. Each connection and wild wondering.
The narrator, Holly, is a wife and mother, preparing for a perfect Christmas Day. She has a roast ready for the oven, presents under a trimmed tree. In-laws, cousins and friends are due to join the large, traditional dinner.
But they slept in.
Holly wallows somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, unable to shake off the dream rattling in her head. Something had followed them home from Siberia.
She and Eric awake in a panic. He is late to pick up his parents from the airport. He rushes out of the house, leaving Holly to deal with her daughter Tatiana — disgruntled, adopted, Russian, teenaged — and finish the last minute preparations. But then the snow begins. Not a fantastical White Christmas but a dangerous blizzard, encasing everyone and everything in a swirling, surreal painting.
Now she put a hand to the picture window and watched as the space between her warm fingers filled with fog against the cold glass. It was like that landscape out there. The angel birdbath was an impression, not a figure, and the rest of obliteration. Then she snapped out of it, remembering the roast and the guests and the chores left to be done, and she took her hand away from the window, looked at her watch gasped at the time. ~Pg. 85
Within this artificial microcosm, she bounces between the past and present, recalling the orphanage in Siberia.
But things keep happening. Iridescent glass goblets shatter. The cleaning woman twists her ankle. CDs are mysteriously scratched, dozens of them. A chicken is pecked to death. Her notebook full of poems stolen from a coffee shop. And another set in a laptop from a hotel safe.
Holly had almost forgotten the daughter of her coworker Kay — a twenty-two-year-old hit by a car while crossing the street with a light at a crosswalk on a perfectly sunny day. How irrationally and completely Holly had felt that she herself should take some blame for that. After all, Holly had never liked Kay and the day before the accident Holly had slapped an employee handbook onto Kay’s desk and told her to read it (she’s been so sick of Kay’s tardiness, her long lunches, her personal cell phone called but what difference did any of that really make?) and that night Kay had gone home with the handbook, in tears, and (who knew?) maybe she’d told her daughter that she was having trouble at work, maybe the daughter had been hurrying across the street the next day, worrying about her mother, and hadn’t looked both ways? ~Pg. 9
These sort of tangents are woven into a strong narrative. They come together into whole cloth, with a (somewhat predictable) twist in the closing pages. Still, the reader cannot help but trundle along, devouring each clue along the way.
My thanks to Nikki at Harper Perennial for the review copy.
Series: P.S. Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (March 24, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches