Lost Girls

Reading Case Histories by Kate Atkinson was so difficult for me. She’s a wonderful writer, and the story is quite different from the usual crime novel. It’s just that the “missing girl” in the book was a 3-year old tot named Olivia who seemed to have been patterned after my baby sister, Sofia. It was so odd to read about it.

There are three case histories: one from 1970, the second from 1994, and the third is from 1979. There’s a fourth that would come in later. The cases are seemingly unconnected until the lead character, Jackson Brodie, encounters them all at the same time in 2004 and each question is answered, not necessarily by Brodie.

The first from 1970 is the most disturbing as it concerns Olivia’s disappearance. Read the first chapter here. The section describes the life of a Maths professor and his wife with their four young daughters. The favorite is, of course, the youngest (Olivia). Here is a passage from her older sister Amelia’s POV:

Amelia liked the idea of having a room in the attic, away from everyone else. She imagined a spiral staircase and walls painted white, and there would be a white sofa and a white carpet, and gauzy white curtains would hang at the window. When she grew up and married she planned to have a single child, a single perfect child (who would be exactly like Olivia), and live in a white house. When she tried to imagine the husband who would live with her in this white house, all she could conjure up was a blur, a shadow of a man who passed her on stairs and in hallways, and murmured polite greetings.

Sometimes I feel exactly like that. I want to live in a nice house with a daughter who would be exactly like Sofia. And then I’d have a baby boy who would look exactly like Jiko when he was little. As for my future husband, I can’t even imagine what he would be like, or if he would be around at all.

So what happened to Olivia? Was she ever found? Read the book. 🙂


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