“Just hunger and sleepiness. And desire, it it was the right time of year, but never love, never guilt, never hope. An animal built for survival, not reflection. The idea almost made him smile, but Augustine was not in the habit of bending his mouth in that direction.”
This novel begins as quietly as the fall of snow. It’s reflective more than anything else. A literary eye on a catastrophic event. Augustine, a man who doesn’t really seem to need or love anyone, focused on the hunger for understanding the universe and it’s origins in the remote corners of the world is going to have an emotional bond with a strange abandoned child. Who is she, where did she come from, is she real? Iris may be the only true bond to humanity he has ever had, as the world around them has fallen away, and through her he thinks back on his cold choices.
On a mission in Space, Sullivan and crew have lost all contact with mission control. She looks back on her life, her divorce and hungers for her daughter who may no longer exist. The beauty here is the memories of the mother who encouraged and fed her curiosity. What happened to that intelligent mother, who closed her mind to studies and her own child? My heart was touched and aching for her.
At times feeling disgusted by the selfishness of Augustine, the way he went through women there was something beautiful to see him change through the presence of Iris. Then the struggle and guilt mothers have choosing a career that requires leaving a child behind, the other option of giving that up to be a good mommy as we see in Sullivan and her own memories of her mother sank heavy in me. I know that isn’t the story, but it shook me- the not knowing if there is anyone left to come home to, the guilt a mother would feel choosing her passion when her own mother seemed to die when she gave her own career up, well that part of the novel meant more to me.
Somehow this story manages to be terrible and beautiful, but it takes it’s time with the reader. There is light in the sadness, but it is a very sad story. It’s not my usual sort of read, but I wanted something different. It delivered.
Random House Publishing Group