• 2000
  • Alfred A. Knopf and Picador
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The Missing World

When Hazel loses three years of her past after a traffic accident wipes out her memory, she doesn't remember her quarrel with Jonathan—or that she left him and moved out of their house. All she knows is that he has dropped everything to care for her and professes to adore her. While he begins to rewrite their history, two other misfits—an American sojourner and a luckless English actress—knock about London, each of them haunted by indelible memories they long to forget.

Selected Reviews

"Spellbinding and excruciating... At once bluntly honest and marvelously deft and graceful, The Missing World combines unblinking, chillingly accurate observation with enormous compassion... what's astonishing is how much the novel feels like real life—and how ingeniously it used the connections and parallels among its disparate protagonists to subtly raise, and then decline to answer, a whole series of profound and mysterious questions about the nature of memory and of love." Elle

"An enthralling novel... that makes you feel as well as think." The New York Times

"Darkly humorous... A Shakespearean comedy with Murdochian overtones." The New Yorker

In the Author's Words

"I was waiting at the dentist's, reading People magazine, and there was an interview with a couple who were getting married after their second engagement. The first had been broken off when the woman was in a car accident and lost not all her memories but all memory of her fiancé. He talked about how, visiting her in her hospital room, he soon realized that he couldn't just say, "Hey, honey, I'm the guy you're going to marry," that he had to begin courting her all over again, and how odd that courtship was, given that he knew so much about her, and she knew nothing about him.

"I am happy to say that I do not remember what the dentist did that day but the interview stayed with me. Around this same time I read several articles about memory—repressed memories, buried memories, the unreliability of memory. On all sides, it seemed, the nature of memory was being questioned. Yet most people believe instinctively that memory is a major part of the self. We remember therefore we are. I went back to the original interview and thought what if the fiancé hadn't been honourable? What if the memories the woman lost were of bad times as well as good?"

Other Editions

German Edition French Edition French Edition UK Paperback Edition