A brooding uncle takes an au pair’s passport. Years of tension between a father and a son erupt with violent consequences. A man disappears along a lonely mail route . . . and it has happened before. From the Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Lighthouse comes this uncanny collection of short fiction about the unhomeliness of home: Fractured families, domestic claustrophobia, and the unseen menace of the everyday.
The opening story, When the Door Closed, It Was Dark, confronts the reader with an insistent physicality, shadowed with violence. An inexperienced girl works as an au pair, homesick and evidently disliked by her employers. She is looking after a baby whose mother has disappeared, as mothers often do in these stories ... The story ends with a painful jolt, but the shock is not unexpected, nor is it graphically described. The inevitability of disaster is conveyed by oblique suggestion ... Moore's taut stories construct, detail by careful detail, the prisons in which her characters will be destroyed.
The characters in Moore’s stories are often trapped in houses. Sometimes doors are left unlocked and windows open, allowing something evil to enter ... It’s difficult to dwell for long in a world of loss and regret, depravity and madness. Because many stories are told in present tense by a third person or omniscient narrator, they also sometimes blend together stylistically, another reason to step away for a few hours from the house of Moore’s fiction. For me, it was impossible to stay away long, however.
Set in empty homes, isolated fortresses, and seaside cottages, these stories use physical spaces as echo chambers of memory—of what once was or what might have been. In and out of them, women and girls (plus two male protagonists) skirt life’s darkest forces, particularly the weight of birth, death, and infidelity ... As they navigate their lives, Moore slowly unearths their essential fears, regrets, and unmet desires, producing a subdued and beautiful feeling of yearning that leaves the reader ruminating long after the final page ... An understated series of stories by Moore...captures facets of loss and obligation.