Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother’s grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change.
Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared.
Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.
I honestly don’t know what to say about this book.
I enjoyed it, for the most part. The characters were interesting- and looking at them from the eyes of 8-year-old Peggy was sometimes entertaining and sometimes strange.
From the start, you know there’s something…odd about her father- when her mother goes back on tour as a musician, he seems to lose the plot, letting Peggy off school and getting her to live at the bottom of the garden and forgetting about the house.
And then when he takes her away- well, ‘normal’ doesn’t really mix with telling a kid that they are the last people on earth.
Her life in the ‘wilderness’ was lovely to read about- Fuller had a charming way of writing about their survival and Peggy’s new world, and it does draw you in. From the time Peggys father decides to craft a piano to the cold hard winter they almost didn’t see the end of, to Peggy growing up and becoming a teenager in their small world.
I mean, the book in itself was not hard to read. Most of the twists were predictable, so when it came to the reveal you just shrugged and carried on- but then, not every book you read is for the twists and turns and on the edge of the seat reading. Sometimes It’s just…nice.
But it was the end I had a major problem is. It turned- in the last 20 pages- from this interesting survival thing to a creepy just…wrong… thing. I mean, after so many years of being alone there are bound to be some problems, but the father cracks up (thinking Peggy is her mother- which I’m sure you can all imagine is just…awful) but Peggy herself ends up going slightly mad to try and deal with her father.
And the end has annoyed me- because I loved the rest of the book but hated the last few chapters so much I could barely actually finish it.