Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor, 2017

A 13 year old girl disappears on the moors above a small Yorkshire village.  Searchers check the reservoirs, the river, the caves, the quarries, the barns, and the moors, but she has not been found.  Thirteen chapters later, each representing a year in the life of the village, the disappearance of Rebecca Shaw remains a mystery, but the reader has learned about many of the villagers, the cycle of the natural year in Yorkshire, and about himself.  McGregor has written a beautiful, lyrical, quietly powerful novel in what seemed like Edgar Lee Masters meets Edward O. Wilson—the small yet rich lives of individual people amidst the endless complexity and beauty of the natural cycle.  Every chapter begins with ‘At midnight when the year turned….” and includes the ‘the clocks went forward and the evenings opened’ and ‘the clocks went back and the nights overtook the short days.”  Foxes, badgers, bats, swallows, cowslips, bluebells, herons, and buzzards all cycle through their years and their lives, as do the villagers—marriages, deaths, separations, affairs, business failures, school and university, births along with hope, despair, sickness, and love.  This is a beautiful book in which nothing much except life happens and that is more than enough in McGregor’s hands.  I’m predicting a NYT Ten Best for this one.