”We were a broken family. I don’t know if we were ever whole, but nonetheless I’d like to put it back together. I want a family reunion (…). I go outside. It’s become a search party. I finely comb the flower beds, ask the goldfish if they know something, look behind the sundial. Out on the fields I walk like a posse, all alone. I poke the dirt with a stick, but it seems disrespectful; I’m hunting for shadows. Nevertheless, I bust up bushes and shrubs, as if I’m on an English hunt for pheasants. As if my father would flap up like a large pheasant. A highly decorated pheasant in uniform. Just him? Where is my mother? Did she fly high like a swallow? Was she a pigeon who cooed by his side? And where are the playing children with blue eyes and curls?”
Annabelle grows up in England, and as a five-year-old her mother passes away from cancer. Not long after she’s sent to Norway to live with her grandparents, while her father stays overseas. Hunt for Shadows is the adult author’s attempt to process the loss, the void, to examine how it’s affected her life. First and foremost, this book revolves around attempting to get to know the humans that put one on earth – putting together one’s family, piece by piece, like a puzzle.
Why do we become the humans we do? How do our childhoods shape our lives? What does the loss of a mother and the absence of a father mean for the life that goes on?
With warm humour and a lot of vulnerability, Annebelle goes to work investigating her father’s history, and she gradually gets close to recognising what the loss of her mother has meant for her. The result is a memoir full of subtleties, a small treasure chest of a book, which surprises and moves the reader.
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