Grace Barnes, living in her subterranean one-room flat at the
nether end of Earl's Court, feels out of tune with striving,
self-seeking 1980's London. Meeting Archie Copeland, she is
gratified to have found a man who shares her obsession for reading
and seems more fascinated by Shelley than shifting share prices. In
Oxford, Hester, Grace's mother, considers her estranged marriage to
Fergus, who left her thirty years before to go and live on a remote
Welsh hillside in pursuit of self-sufficiency. His subsequent
appearance at Grace and Archie's quiet wedding is a surprise and
she finds it hard to quantify her feelings about him. Soon, Grace
is troubled by a distance in Archie, and a tendency to covert
actions even though his faithfulness appears absolute. Moving to
the countryside seems to offer relief, but the recession of the
late 1980s impacts upon them both professionally and Grace is aware
of a growing inadequacy in communication between the two of them as
they struggle to talk openly. A spontaneous holiday on the
Mediterranean island of Kronos provides a respite for them both and
they begin to consider a permanent move away, but then Archie
suddenly disappears. In the wake of this, Grace uncovers a trail of
debts and increasing evidence of his duplicity. Remaining on
Kronos, finding a job and friendship, Grace determines to find
Archie. Hester is anxious to help, while Fergus is unexpectedly
forthright in his attempts to assist. Archie, meanwhile, is forced
to confront years of self-delusion. In the shadow of Archie's
absence, Grace, Fergus and Hester find themselves facing the truth
of their fractured relationships and considering how, so often, it
has been the unspoken words rather than those uttered that have
contributed towards conflict and separation. Counting the Ways
explores the fears that shadow our lives - failure, loss, regret
and mortality - and will appeal to fans of contemporary fiction. It
also makes an ideal book group read.
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