All That’s Left to Tell
by Daniel Lowe
Room meets The Crying Game: a haunting, luminous debut novel about a man and his relationship with his daughter, his captor, his past, and his future.
All That’s Left to Tell is a debut novel about Marc Laurent, a mid-level executive taken hostage in Karachi. Aside from his guards, his only interaction is with a mysterious woman he knows as Josephine. In their first meetings, Josephine tells Marc that they’ve called his company, they’ve called his ex-wife, whom else can they call for ransom money? Marc says there is no one else. And then Josephine asks Marc a question that is even more frightening than his captivity—why didn’t he go home last month for his daughter’s funeral, after she was murdered?
So begins a bizarre yet somewhat comforting ritual, in which every night Josephine visits Marc in his cell. She tells him stories, including stories about what would have happened had his daughter not been murdered. Marc, in turn, begins to tell his own stories, in which his daughter is alive. And soon it’s not clear which storyline is real, and which is imagined, and if it even matters. Throughout the course of these stories (and stories within stories), father and daughter start to find their way toward understanding one another once again.
Atmospheric and exquisitely structured, Daniel Lowe’s searing debut is a tribute to the redemptive power of storytelling.
2.5 of 5 Stars
I really wanted to love this book – the premise was incredibly interesting. In actual reading, however, it was just sort of confusing. It’s incredibly well written but I don’t think it’s a genre that I’m as interested in. I went in expecting more of a mystery thriller and it’s more of a mystery contemporary. The story is written in a completely different way compared to what I’m used to. The whole book is made up of these narratives that characters within the story create and tell each other. Because of this weaving of ‘made up’ stories into the actual story itself, I found myself getting a little lost. This was especially true when Claire and Genevieve started narrating their own stories as well as with the ending.
As for characters, they were equally strange. Marc is sort of the central character around which everything rotates but Claire is just as present. Josephine is this blank character that I think I got to know but I’m not really sure. Most likely because of the story telling I never really knew when I was getting to know a real character or some sort of extra projection of that character made up in another character’s mind.
Overall, it kept me reading out of curiosity but I found myself getting lost numerous times. I had an overall sense of “Wait.. what?”, especially with what happens in the ending. This is not a book for you if you want a clean resolution but I do think this could be great for a buddy read or book group setting if you have others to discuss it with.
Big thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this as an advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review.