Synopses & Reviews
A novel about one family trapped in the grand narratives of history.
On a freezing January morning in 1961, eight-year-old Annas mother disappears into the fog. A kiss that barely touches Annas cheek, a rumble of exhaust and a blurred wave through an icy windshield, and her mother is gone. Looking back, Anna will wish that she could have paid more attention to the facts of that day. The adult world shrouds the loss in silence, tidies the issue of death away along with the things that her mother left behind. And her memories will drift and settle like the fog that covered the car.
That same morning a spy case breaks in the news—the case of the Krogers, apparently ordinary people who were not who they said they were; people who had disappeared in one place and reappeared in another with other identities, leading other lives. Obsessed by stories of the cold war and of the Second World War, which is still a fresh and painful memory for the adults around them, Annas brother, Peter, begins to construct a theory that their mother, a refugee from eastern Germany, was a spy working undercover, and might even still be alive. As life returns to normal, Anna struggles to sort between fact and fantasy. Did her mother have a secret life? And how does anyone know who a person was once she is dead?
The Spy Game is a beautifully wrought novel about loss, history, memory, and imagination, and the way in which we shape these to construct our own identities. It is a painful and tender reminder of the importance of understanding the past and, in turn, the importance of letting go.
"A British woman returns to the childhood loss of her German migr mother in this moody, gloomy novel by the author of The Solitude of Thomas Cave. Anna is eight years old and living in London in 1961 when her mother dies in a car accident. As children, Anna and her brother, Peter, intuit something suspicious about their mother's death, and together they conclude that their mother must not be dead, and that she must be a Soviet spy. Peter, on holiday from boarding school, teaches Anna about cryptography, while Anna searches out irregularities in the behavior of her mother's former friends. As they spy on their neighbors, their paranoia grows out of hand. Interwoven throughout is a plot in the present day, when Anna, dissatisfied with her understanding of her mother's life and death, digs into her mother's past. Harding is a fine portraitist when it comes to sketching the children, their father and friends, but the shifts between present and past never fully integrate the suggestion of espionage into the otherwise effective story of children coping with loss." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Finely composed… An aching, delicate and affecting interpretation of loss and acceptance.” —Kirkus Reviews “Georgina Hardings second novel proposes a tantalizing mystery…full of melodramatic marveling.” — New York Times Book Review
“Finely composed… An aching, delicate and affecting interpretation of loss and acceptance.” Kirkus
On a freezing January morning in 1961, eight-year-old Anna's mother disappears into the fog. The same day, a spy case breaks in the news. Anna's brother begins to construct a theory that their mother was a spy, in this beautifully wrought story about history and memory.
About the Author
Georgina Harding is the author of the novel The Solitude of Thomas Cave and of two works of nonfiction: Tranquebar and In Another Europe. She lives in London and the Stour Valley, Essex, England.