I waited nearly two years for the book to surface in a bookstore or library in Cape Town. In the end I succumbed to Book Depository’s excellent prices and bought it on-line. It was worth both the money and the wait.
The book is a dystopian novel set in Canada after a world ‘flu pandemic kills 99% of the population.
A small group of actors and musicians band together to form the Travelling Symphony. Not only do they perform music, but also Shakespearean plays, which have proved to be the most popular items in their repertoire. Despite the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know it, Shakespeare’s work proves to be enduring!
Twenty years later they are still travelling on their well established circuit in the Great Lakes region, visiting the tiny settlements where people are gamely starting over.
What was so good was that the story didn’t haul out the tired tropes of Mad Max, or a pack of Zombies! However, a religious polygamous cult who provided the danger element to the story, which affected lead character Kirsten. Both Kirstin and the cult proved to be linked directly back to the pivotal character, Arthur Leander.
The book is beautifully written and elegantly plotted. Despite the grim premise, the story is engaging and the characters likeable. The theme of Interconnectedness is cleverly woven through the narrative, via the life of Arthur Leander, a famous actor; we see him before and during the pandemic, and the reverberations of his life continuing to affect survivors in the post-apocalyptic world.
The interesting issues were:
What the world lost (apart from inhabitants) : technology and science – there’s no electricity and therefore no Internet – imagine the effect of these losses on daily life?
And a big question: what – or even who – would you save as you fled to the wilderness away from the plague? Lead character Kirstin grabs seemingly inconsequential items and stuffs them in to her backpack, and escapes. The objects play an important role in joining together the puzzle pieces of the story.
A wonderful 5 star read. I loved it.