Jane, an archivist unravelling the mystery of a missing woman in Victorian times, is motivated by the need to find the woman's name; to name her so that she is remembered. While Jane is carrying out this research, she is also grappling with a way to move on from an incident when, as a 15 year old, a child under her care went missing.
That's a bare outline of the plot but this novel is so much more subtle and haunting than I imagined it would be when I first selected it for reading.
haven't known how to describe the impact this novel had on me; I've
been reflecting on its themes for a few weeks. While I was immersed in
the story, I kept wondering how most people who've gone before us leave
little record. Their names may be recorded in a census or on an
electoral roll but there's often little else to remember them - no
fleshing out of who they are and what they did. And what of those people who slip through the records of history? What lingers of them?
That is the role of memory. If I can't name you and no-one has a memory of you, did you really exist? Aislinn Hunter explores these ideas in The World Before Us, which includes many elements that spoke to me: history, plants, memory, and mystery.
This is a complex novel, partly narrated by the voices of the past, that continues to haunt me. Thank you Aislinn Hunter, for creating such a mesmising and thought-provoking tale. I will be reading this again soon.
To read more about The World Before Us, visit Goodreads.