Winner of the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize
1976: 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 that makes music but no sound and a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is everything.
©2015 Claire Fuller (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
"Like all good fairy tales, this is a book filled with suspense and revelation, light and shadow and the overwhelming feeling that nothing is quite as it seems in the Hillcoats’ lives. It’s spellbinding, scary stuff." (The Daily Express)
"Fuller handles the tension masterfully in this grown-up thriller of a fairytale, full of clues, questions and intrigue." (The Times)
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
"Repetitive, disturbing, and melodramatic"
When I finish a book like Our Endless Numbered Days, I wonder what I missed that caused me to only give two stars to a book that has a much higher overall rating, and that so many readers seem to love. The best explanation I could come up with is that there was some sort of terrible electronic glitch at Audible where other readers got the well-written, brilliant, incredible version of this book, and I got the repetitive, disturbing, maddening, just plain awful version, because we clearly read different books.
If you're in the mood for an overly long, repetitive book, full of irresponsible, selfish, and completely crazy adults, a questionable protagonist, written by an author that withheld information from the reader until the end of the sordid tale to make the ending more melodramatic, then you might enjoy Our Endless Numbered Days. Even a decent narration and some above average prose couldn't save this one for me.
"Disturbing and compelling"
A disturbing story of a child victimized by the actions of her selfish, unfit parents. It is quite compelling, but also difficult to read due to the subject. Experienced readers will figure out the final revelation(s) way before the end, but this is still a compelling story, well narrated.
"Insanity in the forest....."
Beautiful story that becomes a lesson in survival in the end. I loved this listen, the writing was perfect for an audiobook, very descriptive and picturesque. The narration was beautiful. The narrator is very good at individualizing the characters and has a beautiful English accent. This story is one of those I wanted to listen to again after learning the conclusion. This story is not a happy one but a lesson of one little girl's survival both mentally and physically and whether she was successful can be debated.
I couldn't wait to get to the dismal ending of this one. The narration is in the voice of a little/young girl and it became very tedious. Many parts drag on and on to no benefit of the storyline. In one section the characters go kiting and eventually it flies off and away, like this book should do.
"The rest of the world has gone."
Children are the first victims, when their parents go to war and the abuse is always inflicted with love and merciless brutality. This book depicts a particularly cruel and savage war, where a child is taken hostage into the apocalyptic fantasies of her father, and is made to disappear into the wild, into her imagination and her deepest survival instincts.
We meet Peggy, aged 17, in London with her mother, and a younger brother she never knew, till her return from the forest; where her father kept her for nine years. She remembers and tells the story from her point of view, she is an innocent, imaginative little girl, that loves her mama and her papa like all children, and wants to believe in their love. She tells us of her survival in a forest where her father has made her believe is the last place on earth and they are the only survivors.
Beautifully written, well described reality of living outside of society, with minimum resources and no other human contact. We see the awakening of a child into autonomy under the most twisted of circumstances, breaking free into her world and the world.
"An extraordinary and gripping listen"
This book kept me wondering until the very end: why did they leave the civilised world and go to the forest? What makes a man take his daughter out of her young life to live far away from any human being in the middle of nowhere? And how can a young girl like Peggy cope with a situation like this? And at the very end of the book when the whole secret was revealed I was even more taken aback...
I must say that this is one of the best books I've ever listened to. It's gripping, it's unexpected, it's unputdownable. Excellent work and highly recommended!
Let's say ... The Revenant meets Room meets Girl on The Train... a gripping listen, very well narrated.
"Intriguing, thought-provoking, with a good twist."
I chose this book because it has won prizes and has been praised by many critics and book bloggers I respect. It is not the kind of novel that I would normally pick up in a library or bookshop but I'm very glad that I gave it a go.
The story concerns Peggy who is taken from her home in London, under mysterious circumstances, to live in a cabin the woods ( in Germany? ) by her Survivalist father. She is eight years old at the time of her 'abduction'. One night, while her concert pianist mother is away on a concert tour, she overhears snatches of a quarrel between her father and his long-term friend and fellow survivalist Oliver. Their departure from the family home follows almost immediately after this. When Peggy escapes from the cabin and her father and is reunited with her mother, she is seventeen and discovers that she has an eight-year-old brother whom she has never known.
The bulk of the tale tells of the endless numbered days in the cabin with her father, surviving in the natural world with no modern conveniences and believing a story , told by her father, of a natural catastrophe which has left only the two of them alive. The relationship between the two of them undergoes many stresses and changes and when Peggy discovers the possibility of another person living nearby she begins to challenge the version of life her father has constructed for her. Puberty begins to rear its head too and Peggy is further confused. A descent into mental illness (for one or both of them)seems inevitable and a crisis arises between father and daughter, leading to tragedy and a dramatic final denouement.The story starts quite slowly but builds to a very dramatic end, with a twist which left me open-mouthed. I had thought I had worked out where the story was going but there was a sting in the tale that I did not see coming.
The narrative reads like a modern fairy tale in some respects and the narrator did well to keep me hooked to a storyline which for some periods was a bit light on plot. But overall, I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good yarn and an unexpected ending.
"Kept me gripped by the unfolding story throughout."
It was a slow start but gradually unfolded into a gripping tale of a child's life dominated by her survivalist Father's obsession, and self centred revenge against her mother. Although I could tell the awful truth before the reveal, I felt that it was handled with sensitivity and a skill in story telling that lacked gratuitous sensationalism. It was also full of brilliant details of the struggle to survive off grid. I now feel I don't know what to listen to that can follow that!
I would recommend this audiobook as it is intriguing, well-read and includes an interesting twist in the tail (although I have to admit I guessed it pretty much straight away).
I enjoyed the twist in the tail, and I also enjoyed learning that I had guessed it correctly!
I think the central character, Peggy or "Punzel", was generally the character with whom it was easiest to sympathize, partly because she is also the narrator - even though she does retain a certain amount of mystery until the end of the story. I liked her mother, Ute, as well. The reader did a good job, and I was particularly impressed by her ease with and good pronunciation of the German phrases that occasionally came up.
Perhaps not all in one sitting as that would have been several hours! But it was gripping and I did get through it quite quickly.
I was not sure whether I would like this book, as there has been a lot of hype about it and that is not necessarily an indication of quality... but I found it well-written and I was quickly swept up into the story, which was not easy given the subject matter. A very enjoyable audiobook.
Absorbing and beautifully written.
Simple but thought provoking tale with just enough clues to provide answers if you concentrate on the smaller details.
"A rather sudden ending"
great storyline but the ending was abrupt and incomplete. worth a read. recommend this for the thriller aspect
charming not technical way to see of going back to basics would suit you or is it just a dream with a mystery surrounding the family envolved
"An enthrallingmix of reality and imagination!"
In 1976 Peggy is 8 years old and living with her German mother, a celebrated pianist, and her Papa, James. But all is not happy families: James surrounds himself with an array of odd ‘retreater’ friends obsessed with ‘survivalism’, and when some marital crisis which Peggy doesn’t understand makes her mother go away for a short while, James takes his little girl off for a ‘holiday’. Not a donkey -rides -and-sandcastles holiday, but what becomes 9 years in dense forest somewhere in a mountainous part of Europe, in Die Hűtte a cramped cabin James had been led to believe contained all that was needed for a retreat from humanity – but in fact is a wreck.
It’s a tense story cleverly structured through flash-backs and flash-forwards, so that we know from the start that Peggy survives the experience, but gut-tightening suspense keeps us completely engrossed in the intervening years. The minutiae of surviving in the forest, with fire-lighting, skinning squirrels and boiling acorns and leaves, make their life completely real. But the positive mood takes its first downward spiral when winter and hunger close in and James tells his little girl that the rest of the world has been destroyed in an apocalyptic storm leaving only the two of them left alive. Peggy believes Papa unreservedly.
The undercurrent of menace increases over time as James’ mental state deteriorates. There are rages, and when Peggy ceases to be just a little girl, he starts to call her by the name of his wife who he believes betrayed him. By the time Peggy is 17, she is saved by discovering Reuben, the wild man of the woods from whom she learns that her father has lied – and what love is. He forces Peggy to escape from her now demented father, to cross ‘the divide’ from where she finally returns to her mother and a brother she’d never known. The revelation of Reuben’s identity is the final masterly twist which lingered with me long after I’d finished listening.
The narrator Eilidh L Benson hugely increases the effect of the narrative through her creation of a child’s voice. She avoids the trap of being coy or irritating, but sounds young enough to increase our unease by a constant reminder that the story is told through the child’s eye, a child who emerges into some kind of damaged adulthood only at the very end.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.