Having moved from the Fens to the Midlands to the Scottish Borders, Jessie Noon finds herself struggling to leave the past behind.
Following a family tragedy, Jessie Noon moved from the Fens to the Midlands and now lives in the Scottish Borders with a cat, a dog and – she is convinced – a ghost in the spare room. Her husband walked out almost a year ago, leaving a note written in steam on the bathroom mirror, and Jessie hasn’t seen her son for years. When Jessie meets Robert, a local outreach worker, they are drawn to one another and begin a relationship; meanwhile, Jessie has begun receiving messages telling her I’m on my way home.
As a translator, Jessie worries over what seems like the terrible responsibility of choosing the right words. It isn’t exactly a matter of life and death, said her husband, but Jessie knows otherwise. This is a novel about communication and miscommunication and lives hanging in the balance (a child going missing, a boy in a coma, an unborn baby), occupying the fine line between life and death, between existing and not existing.
‘Like Moore’s other works, Missing starts out as a spare and seemingly simple psychological drama. But stay with it and dig deeper, for beneath the surface lurk immensely satisfying hidden depths.’ —Malcolm Forbes, The Sunday Herald
‘Missing is a triumph.’ —Anthony Cummins, Daily Mail
‘In The Lighthouse, the reader is drip-fed information about two very different lives, both charged with unhappiness, that intersect explosively in a hotel in Germany. So compelling is the build-up, that the climax is silent — as if the explosion had beaten the reader to the punch. The same highly engineered, drip-feed technique is applied in Missing, but the crisis never comes. What does come is more drift-like, rhythmical and mysterious: change.’ —Hamish Robinson, The Spectator
‘The novel exudes loneliness and a sense of disintegration. The progression of a hairline crack in Jessie’s kitchen window appears especially fatalistic, as does the constant sighing of the autumn leaves outside her spooky spare room. In under 200 pages Moore skilfully delivers a twisty, suspenseful story in the manner of a defeatist thriller, full of the reckoning and regret of middle age, nowhere more apparent than in Jessie’s brief, rather excruciating relationship with Robert, a local outreach worker.’ —Catherine Taylor, New Statesman
‘As losses accumulate and ghosts multiply, the book begins to resemble a gothic tale, conflating the tragic and the mundane, betrayal and cooking, loneliness and “newspapers and phones and children and meal deals”. You suspect that some of these leads might be false, but the current of Moore’s prose is stronger than the pull of any potential plot twists. The main narrative is interspersed with flashbacks to 1985 and with anonymous messages, in which someone tells Jessie they are coming home. The interruptions grow longer; the tension increases. And then, without breaking the rhythm, Moore swiftly brings the story to an end, reminding you that life can be a realist drama and a romance, a horror story and an existential novel – often all of these things at once, and more.’ —Anna Aslanyan, The Guardian
‘Reading Missing for the second time I found it multi-layered, full of reflection on the nature of our experience, and yet written with such immediacy and freshness that the pages fly past. There is tragedy at its core, and yet the characters carry on, as people do.’ —Cath Barton, Wales Arts Review
‘There are books which, when you finish reading them, force you to stop everything for a moment to acknowledge their excellence, to mark a personal encounter with something special. Missing is one of those books, and it gives me great joy to say that it hit me hard. Alison Moore was famously shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2012 for her debut novel The Lighthouse. Missing deserves equal attention. More than that though, Moore deserves considerably more attention as a writer than she is currently getting.’ —Nina Allen, The Spider’s House
‘Missing is certainly a quiet book, and if you hate evasiveness and lack of resolution in a story, then it may be one to avoid. Moore’s is a style that gradually seduces rather than throwing out twists and cliffhangers to keep you glued to the page. Don’t be fooled, though, into thinking this means it is uneventful. The brilliance of Missing lies in the fact that its calm surface conceals vicious barbs.’ —Blair Rose, Nudge Book Magazine
‘Missing is full of everyday minutiae: supermarket shopping, train travel, a halting relationship between Jessie and a local outreach worker. But there’s a constant undercurrent of tension and uncertainty: you can never be quite sure how each individual element will resolve. As a result, reading Moore’s novel feels like being on a knife-edge.’ —David Hebblethwaite, David’s Book World
‘Alison Moore persuades you, gently, to look at words and language anew, to question the nature of the very structures you have inhabited for so long. She has marshalled a multitude of images, all sliding together under the surface, all apparently unstable, isolated, yet touching, like the infinite parallel universes that Jessie reads about. With her apparently simple, artless style, she has achieved something remarkable.’ —Philip Womack, Times Literary Supplement
‘This is a glorious evocation of alienation and misunderstanding. Jessie could be deemed tragic but she is also a survivor. The author has created a masterpiece. A haunting tale of devastating insight and depth.’ —Jackie Law