This is a story of colour and pathos that hurtles from the Gold Rush country of northern California, through the brawling casinos of Nevada, to land in the gentle countryside of south central France.
Ondaatje tells the intimate story of a father, two daughters, and an adopted boy who get into a violent fight that splits them forever. Anna eventually turns to writing and working in the archives, which takes her to France in pursuit of an early writer, Lucien Segura. His life, and losses, reflect much of her own ,and we are drawn into memories which skip backward and forward throughout the book.
The author of “The English Patient” and “In the Skin of a Lion” has had a taste of chop and change in his own life. Born in Ceylon, he has lived for some time in Toronto, with much travelling in between. It gives space and grandeur to his narrative, as well as deep feeling to his characters.
Review by Anne McDougall