Everything Under by Daisy Johnson [6/10]

Saturated with portent and gloom, and lurking in and around Oxfordshire river folk country, “Everything Under” is a most unusual novel, a gothic tale blended with modern transgressiveness and family schisms. Gretel, a humdrum lexicographer, tracks down the mother who walked out a decade and a half earlier, and then Daisy Johnson deftly (but deliberately obscurely, the strands are indeed murky) ducks in and out of the past with tales of transgender waifs and role models, and generational ills. Johnson pens evocative, mystery-saturated prose that grips from scene to scene, but to this reader, the overall narrative glides with little laid-out purpose. By the time of the climax, I found myself both engrossed and over it, so my judgement is this: a memorable novel that offers no easy closure.

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