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The Missing World
MARGOT LIVESEY

The Missing World by Margot Livesey
28 reviews (2000) (336p)
Amazon.com Best Books

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Book Description
Following the acclaimed Criminals comes a spellbinding new novel that confirms Margot Livesey's place "right up there," as Liz Smith wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "in the realm of P. D. James and the esteemed Patricia Highsmith."

What if -- by stroke of fortune -- you could start afresh, could wipe away that catastrophic blunder in your past? And to what lengths would you go to establish that in fact you'd done nothing wrong at all? After an accident robs Hazel of three years' worth of memory, just such an opportunity is granted to Jonathan, undone by his betrayal of this woman, whom he professes to love above all. While he begins to rewrite their history, two other misfits -- an American sojourner and a luckless English actress -- knock about London, each of them haunted by indelible memories they would much rather forget. Eventually their hopes of redemption draw them toward Jonathan's house, where Hazel has become a virtual prisoner . . .

Replete with compelling characters and extravagantly plotted, The Missing World weaves together these separate quests for love and truth in a manner both thrilling and, ultimately, revealing about our imperfect lives.


Amazon.com Review
Margot Livesey is an artist of alluring unease. Enter London through her looking glass, if you dare; once you do, it's doubtful you'll want to emerge. In her ruthlessly funny third novel, The Missing World, a modern Rapunzel is imprisoned in a none-too-tall Highbury house after losing much of her memory in an accident. Hazel's captor? The beekeeping insurance adjuster with whom she used to live. Jonathan is now determined to restore their relationship, even if he has to embalm it in lies: "Why am I doing this? he wondered, sitting on the edge of the bed. The answer perfumed the air, sweet as violets: because I can." Hazel's rescuers? Freddie, a black American roofer who would give anything "for a decent, ordinary phobia," and Charlotte, a rackety actress who's been on a sponging odyssey around London ever since her boyfriend left her and became a success: "Charlotte had perfected a look of keen interest when people insisted on telling her how well he was doing." And then there's Maud, who has her own reasons for keeping her best friend, Hazel, in the dark, and Mr. Early, an entirely bald designer of mannequin heads.

How these wildly different individuals converge is only one of The Missing World's many exhilarations. Livesey slowly, tantalizingly has her characters reveal themselves as they bump up against reality. She also has an eye--and a perfect ear--for evasions and illusion. Jonathan is particularly adept at turning wish fulfillment into an extreme sport, convincing himself that subterfuge is the only way to go:

He wanted Hazel better, of course, but wasn't that like desiring his own banishment? What he really wanted was for her to recover not merely from the accident but from the delusions that had carried her away from him.
Energy, as Blake puts it, is eternal delight, and with its plethora of farcical entrances and exits, The Missing World has energy to burn. Yet just as often Livesey conquers by oddball understatement. Emerging from her coma, Hazel "opened her eyes and gazed up at the four of them. The colour of her irises had deepened, as if the long twilight of the last week had taken up permanent residence in her brain." With her predilection for the narrative ambush, Livesey has been likened to P.D. James and Patricia Highsmith--but she may even exceed these grandes dames in this brilliant exploration of where devotion ends and danger begins. --Kerry Fried


Margot Livesey Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 0  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 0  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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