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The Missing World: A Novel by Margot Livesey

The Missing World: A Novel (original 2000; edition 2006)

by Margot Livesey

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2041057,485 (3.45)6
Title:The Missing World: A Novel
Authors:Margot Livesey
Info:Picador (2006), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Missing World by Margot Livesey (2000)



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What if - by a seeming stroke of fortune - you could start again, could start afresh and wipe away that one catastrophic blunder in your past. Just how far would you go to establish that you had, in fact, done nothing wrong at all? After an accident causes Hazel to have amnesia, and she loses three years' worth of her memory, just such an opportunity is presented to her ex-boyfriend Jonathan. He is absolutely undone by his betrayal of this woman, whom he professes to love above all, and he is determined to do everything within his power to make it up to her; to earn her forgiveness.

While Jonathan begins to rewrite his and Hazel's history together, two other misfits - an American sojourner and an unlucky English actress - travel around London, each of them haunted by indelible memories which they would much rather forget. Eventually their hopes for redemption draw them toward Jonathan and Hazel, who has become a virtual prisoner of Jonathan's most cherished whims and desires. The story that follows is a brilliantly inverted love story: a story which chronicles one man's desperate attempts to realize and rationalize a lie, and a woman's harrowing attempts to recognize the truth.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Margot Livesey is, in my opinion, a terrific writer, and she captures the essence of characters beautifully. As a matter of fact, the character of Charlotte is so like my sister-in-law, they could have been twins. I give The Missing World: A Novel by Margot Livesey a definite A! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Jan 22, 2015 |
"...that which we do not remember, we are doomed to repeat. As far as I'm concerned it's the other way round. We repeat what we remember. Only forgetfulness sets us free." (175) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
I love this author's writing, particularly the first book of hers I had read [book:Eva Moves the Furniture|824768]. When I found this yesterday at a book sale, it seemed the perfect book for my plane ride home. It was quite good - the transition of the Jonathan from protagonist to antagonist was interesting; I despised him by the end of the story. The various forms of selfishness in nearly all hpthe characters made me like the human race just a little bit less for a while. I did find the story line of the roofer-as-hero to be too far fetched for my liking, but as a character, he was quite satisfying and redemptive amidst the others. ( )
  Lcwilson45 | Mar 3, 2013 |
Interesting, interlocking stories, a dearth of likable characters. More clever than emotional. ( )
  jaaron | Apr 29, 2012 |
Super smart with great characters who all have really interesting jobs. ( )
  miriamparker | Mar 19, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312424701, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Replete with compelling characters and an extravagant plot, this novel of memory and redemption weaves together four separate quests for love and truth in a manner both thrilling and, ultimately, revealing about the imperfections of human nature.

(summary from another edition)

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