Magazine article The Spectator

'Missing', by Alison Moore - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Missing', by Alison Moore - Review

Article excerpt

Whereas in an unabashed thriller, in the TV series The Missing, for example, the object of the exercise is well understood -- a child is lost -- and the viewer, with certain advantages, rides through the unfolding events saddled up on the back of a questing protagonist, in Alison Moore's Missing, as in her Booker-shortlisted first novel The Lighthouse, the reader is placed in a very different position.

Jesse Noon, a divorced mother approaching 50, is followed round her house in Hawick in the Scottish Borders by a cat and a dog, and the reader follows too. Something is wrong -- several things. One morning less than a year earlier, her partner Will, a train driver, upped and left, leaving a message written on a steamed-up mirror. He had hoped for a child that 'never appeared'.

By default, Jesse has acquired his dog. She is also estranged from her son, Paul, the product of a brief early marriage. She has just returned early from a conference on literary translation, her trade, in London. Deafened and disorientated by a blocked ear, she could barely participate. Waiting for a bus in Carlisle, she meets Robert, who also lives in Hawick, and a tentative relationship develops over encounters in Morrisons and shared meals. …

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