THE STRENGTH OF THE SUN
In this spellbinding take on "six degrees of separation" (originally published as Golden Deeds in the writer's native New Zealand), Chidgey conducts a symphony of crossed destinies with sophistication and compassion. Intertwining several themes—the distance between strangers, the intimacy of lovers, the endurance of memory—she follows the fates of seemingly unconnected characters. Colette, a New Zealand college student leaving her broken home for the first time, begins receiving mysterious letters from the Friends of Patrick Mercer in England. They inform her of Patrick's slow progress after a near-fatal car crash. She has no idea who Patrick is, but she's curious and awaits each letter with eager anticipation. Meanwhile, Patrick, in his coma, recalls his childhood dreams and disappointments and his budding interest in medieval manuscripts, which eventually become his life's work. Back in New Zealand, Colette now baby-sits for the young son of Malcolm and Ruth Pearse, who are trying to continue their shattered lives several years after the unsolved disappearance of their teenage daughter, Laura. Chidgey strings together her diverse characters and crisscrossing plot lines with deft economy, building a mesmerizing narrative that's capped by an ingenious twist. Chidgey's first novel, In a Fishbone Church, was nominated for the Orange Prize; this intensely imagined narrative should also win critical raves. (Mar. 1)
Forecast:A blurb from Nick Hornby will catch the attention of readers on the lookout for fresh talent.