What an amazing experience reading this book this was. Harrowing, lyrical, horrifying and achingly beautiful. I am still kind of stunned.
8 year old Peggy lives in London with her mother Uta, a concert pianist and James her father, unemployed and part of a survivalist group. He tells stories about Die Hutte, a cabin in the woods where they could ride out the apocalypse. He has also constructed a shelter in the basement and regularly holds drills for preparedness, blowing three short blasts on his whistle. One day while her mother is off on tour, her father blows his whistle and says they are going on holiday, to Die Hutte. It is a long arduous journey.
Soon, Peggy realizes this is no holiday and her father finally tells her that the world beyond their patch of land high in the Bavarian forests is gone, and everyone with it. All she knew, all she loved is gone, lost the in The Great Divide. They continue on living this way for nine years until a cataclysmic event brings that part of her life to a close.
The story switches back and forth in time, between Peggy in present day (1985), reunited with her mother and a brother she never knew and Peggy and her father in the past at Die Hutte. The pacing is skillful and suspenseful, kept me turning the pages and growling at anyone who dared to interrupt. The prose depicting the wild, beautiful and dangerous terrain is gorgeously evocative and I suspect the characters will haunt me for a long time to come. Highly recommended.