Cover image for Mapping the edge : a novel
Title:
Mapping the edge : a novel
Author:
Dunant, Sarah.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, 2001.

©1999
Physical Description:
301 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780375503238
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

People go missing every day. They walk out of their front doors and out of their lives into the silence of cold statistics. For those left behind it is the cruelest of long good-byes. Anna, a self-sufficient and reliable single mother, packs her bags one day for a short vacation to Italy. She leaves her beloved six-year-old daughter, Lily, at home in London with good friends. But when Anna doesn't return, everyone begins to make excuses until the likelihood that she might not come back becomes chillingly clear. And the people who thought they knew Anna best realize they don't know her at all. How could she leave her daughter? Why doesn't she call? Is she enjoying a romantic tryst with a secret lover? Or has she been abducted or even killed by a disturbed stranger? Did that person you loved so much and thought you knew so well did they simply choose to go and not come back? Or did someone do the choosing for them? Dunant, a masterly British suspense writer, skillfully interweaves parallel narratives that are stretched taut with tension even as they raise difficult questions about motherhood, friendship, and accountability. In this compelling hybrid of sophisticated crime writing and modern women's fiction, Dunant challenges and unnerves us as she redefines the boundaries of the psychological thriller. Missing rubs the soul raw. In place of answers all you have is your imagination.


Author Notes

She began her career writing mysteries, but with her last book, TRANSGRESSIONS (ReganBooks/HarperCollins), graduated to more ambitious, cutting-edge psychological thrillers. Three of her six books, including TRANSGRESSIONS, have been shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Edgar equivalent, the Golden Dagger award, and her third novel, FATLANDS, won the Silver Dagger. As a journalist and critic she has worked extensively in print, radio and television, where for many years she hosted her own show on BBC2. She has also edited two books of essays. Dunant lives in London with her family.

(Publisher Provided) Sarah Dunant was born Linda Dunant in London, England on August 8, 1950. She read history at Newnham College, Cambridge. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked in theatre, radio and television. Her works include The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, Sacred Hearts, Snow Storms in a Hot Climate, Transgressions, Mapping the Edge, and Blood and Beauty. She is also the author of A Hannah Wolfe Crime Novel series.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The torment experienced by family and friends left behind when someone disappears, not knowing whether the missing person has chosen to leave or was chosen to fit into someone else's scheme, is the territory mapped here. Anna, a young single mother, leaves London for an Italian vacation and fails to return. Dumont engages the reader in her friends' frenzied speculation by presenting, in alternating chapters, two entirely different scenarios (reminiscent of the film Sliding Doors) of what happened to Anna since her last day in Florence. In one, Anna meets a lover and feels compelled to stay to shore up the troubled relationship. In the other scenario, Anna meets a stranger who, in a series of chillingly plausible scenes, manages to gain her trust prior to kidnapping her. Two clocks run in the scenarios, each bringing Anna closer to danger. Compelling psychological suspense. --Connie Fletcher


Publisher's Weekly Review

What happened to Anna Franklin? That's the question posed in Dunant's latest novel, detailing five days in the life of those close to an English journalist who heads off on a short holiday and doesn't return when she is expected. Waiting anxiously at home are Anna's six-year-old daughter, Lily; Lily's part-time surrogate father, Paul; and Estella, Anna's best friend and Lily's godmother, who has flown in from Amsterdam. Caught in a whirlwind of uncertainty, Anna's makeshift family lives from moment to moment, waiting for the phone to ring, the door to openDhoping beyond hope for a simple explanation of Anna's absence. Two parallel "what if" stories run the course of the novel, tangling the reader in a web of suspense and confusion. Is Anna depressed by Lily's growing independence and feeling a need to reconnect with the woman she used to be before she became a mother? Or is she the victim of a tragic obsession gone awry, kidnapped by a psychopath with no feelings of remorse? While either story could accurately explain Anna's disappearance, each version shows a different side of the missing woman and the motivations behind her sudden trip. The suspense is good enough to keep the pages turning and the secondary characters' reactions lend credibility to the plot line; however, the ambiguous conclusion reads more like a cop-out than a subtle send-off. Most interesting is the convincing portrayal of Anna's alternative family and their quietly unconventional 21st-century living arrangements. Though she is known as a writer of sophisticated thrillers (Transgressions; Under My Skin), Dunant here leans gracefully toward straight literary fiction. Agent, Claire Alexander at Aitken & Stone. (Feb. 23) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In this sixth novel by Golden Dagger nominee Dunant (Fatlands), Anna Franklin, a London journalist and single mother, flies to Florence for a brief vacation and fails to return as scheduled. Dunant then tells three stories, one of which takes place at Anna's home in London and two that present alternate explanations for her disappearance. Both of Anna's rather improbable adventures involve mysterious men, one a secret lover and the other a psychopath. Switching back and forth between the two tales dissipates much of the tension that either plot line might have otherwise sustained. Anna is strangely acquiescent, creating a creepy sense that she is, in part, a collaborator in her own victimization. The most compelling chapters are those narrated by Anna's friend Estella, a witty, commitment-phobic corporate attorney who flies in from Amsterdam to care for Anna's six-year-old daughter, Lily. Recommended only for public libraries collecting heavily in suspense fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/00.]ÄJane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Departure lounge, South Terminal, Gatwick Airport. A shopper's paradise: two floors of superior retail space connected by gliding glass lifts and peopled by an endless stream of travelers, processed to have time on their hands and a permanent discount at the wave of a boarding card. If you are smart you come here with an empty case and do your packing as you walk: cosmetics, toiletries, clothes, shoes, books, perfumes, booze, cameras, films. For many the holiday starts here. You can see it in their faces. People shop differently, none of that suburban mall madness. Instead they stroll and browse, couples with their arms around each other, the beach saunter already in their stride, children dancing behind their parents in the hermetic safety of a controlled environment. When did you last read a horror story about a child abducted in a departure lounge? Second floor, a cappuccino bar with tables out on the concourse, next to the Body Shop and Accessorize. A woman is sitting alone at a table, a small holdall by her side, her boarding card lying near to a plastic cup in front of her. She has no carrier bags, no duty free. She is not interested in shopping. Instead she is watching others and thinking about how it was twenty years before when she came to this airport as a teenager, on her first solo flight to Europe. None of this existed then. Before the invention of niche marketing, air travel had been a serious, more reverent affair. People wore their best clothes for flying then, and duty free meant two hundred Rothmans and a bottle of Elizabeth Arden perfume. It seems as far away as black-and-white photography. At that time her flight had been delayed for three hours. Too young for cheap booze and too poor for perfume, she had sat in a row of red bucket chairs nailed to the ground and read her guidebooks, mapping a city she had only ever visited in her mind, trying to quieten the tumbling adrenaline inside her. The rest of her life had been waiting on the other side of Gate 3 and she had been aching to walk into it. It is not the same now. Now, though there is adrenaline it has no playfulness within it. Instead it burns the insides of her stomach, feeding off apprehension and caffeine. There are moments when she wishes she hadn't come. Or that she had brought Lily with her. Lily would have loved the circus of it all; her chatter would have filled up the silence, her curiosity would have nudged the cynicism toward wonder. But this is not Lily's journey. Her absence is part of the point. She pushes the coffee cup away from her and slips the boarding card back into her pocket. When she last looked at the monitor the Pisa flight was still waiting to board. Now it is flashing last call. Gate 37. She gets up and walks toward the glass lift. Twenty years ago as she made this last walk there had been a Beatles track playing in her head. "She's Leaving Home." It was dated by then, already ironic. It had made her smile. Maybe that was her problem. She was no longer comforted by irony. Amsterdam Friday p.m. On Friday evenings I like to take drugs. I suppose you could call it a habit, though hardly a serious one. I see it, rather, as a way to relax; the end of work, the need to let go, welcome the weekend, that kind of thing. Sometimes it's dope, sometimes it's alcohol. Like most things in my life it has a routine. I come in, turn on the radio, roll a spliff, sit at the kitchen table, and wait for the world to uncurl. I like the way life becomes when I'm stoned: more malleable, softer at the edges. It feels familiar to me. Reassuring. I've been doing it a long time. I started smoking when I was in my teens. I got my first stash from the boyfriend of a friend: an early example of adolescent free enterprise. The first time I smoked there were other people around, but it didn't take me long to discover solitude. I used to sit upstairs and blow the smoke out of my bedroom window. If my father knew (and it seems impossible to me now that he didn't) he was smart enough not to call me on it. I was never into rebellion, only into solitude. And being stoned. And so it has continued throughout my life. Though you probably wouldn't know it from meeting me. I don't look the type, you see. It has always been one of my greatest talents, that in the nine-to-five game I come over as the professional to my fingertips, brain like my clothes: sharp lines and no frills. Straight, in other words. One of life's good girls. The kind you can depend on. But everyone has to slip off their shoulder pads sometimes. Excerpted from Mapping the Edge by Sarah Dunant All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.