Nora, a concert Cellist, returns home after an incident a year earlier which has left her broken and unable to play. She is haunted by the memory of a man, older than she, with whom she had an affair which, we believe, ended badly.
Her mother, obsessed with the glamour of her past and making the most of her fragility to take advantage of all who would help her, is less than welcoming.
One day Nora comes upon an injured fledgling rook by the side of the road and feeling a bond between the injured bird and herself, takes him home to care for.
Burial – whether physical or metaphorical – is a theme which runs through the book: whether it is Nora attempting to bury the past by running daily and caring for Rook, her mother trying to hide aspects of her earlier life and loves or the young documentary maker who visits Nora’s village to investigate the location of the buried daughter of King Cnut.
Birth in another recurring theme – Rook is a baby, Nora’s friend has a young child and is pregnant with her second. These themes complement each other beautifully and handled with Rusbridge’s expertise, they are the structure which holds this beautiful and haunting tale together.
The author’s light, descriptive prose is a delight to read. Her descriptive passages are prose poems which bring to life a countryside with which she is obviously very intimate.
As I read the book I was unaware just how well the author weaved the various elements of her book together until the shocking and heartbreaking end.
Ms. Rusbridge leaves us with hope for Nora and her future and it is a tribute to the author that I cared about this character enough to want her to have a happy and more fulfilled future.
I loved this book and found myself shedding a few tears at the end. I couldn’t recommend Rook more highly.