Dear Thief

Samantha Harvey. Atavist Books, $20 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-937894-46-7
With her eerie and arresting latest, Harvey (The Wilderness) gives the neologism “frenemy” a full-book treatment. Unexpectedly sensing the presence of a long-absent friend whose whereabouts are unknown, the unnamed female narrator composes a series of unsent letters to her “after years of incuriosity you might call callous.” That callousness stems in part from a legitimate grievance: the last time the narrator welcomed her beautiful and capricious friend, Nina, into her Shropshire home, Nina ended up departing with her host’s husband in tow. Almost two decades later, the narrator is working in London at an elderly care home and considering whether to reconcile with her estranged husband when she begins her one-sided correspondence with Nina. Full of deflections and obfuscations, the letters recount the adversarial relationship between the more earthbound narrator and the exotic Nina, a British-Lithuanian world-traveler nicknamed Butterfly, that “fragile and most temporary of creatures.” Adopting various tones—lyrical, speculative, ironic, nostalgic, conciliatory, murderously bitter—the narrator reflects on the intensity of the women’s bond and reveals large and small betrayals on both sides. This controlled, thrilling novel derives its power from the perversity of a friendship in which the pair is “always closer when one has taken too much from the other.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/04/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-06-241584-4
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-241585-1
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