Mia Levitin

Turning the Pages of Time

Must I Go

By

Hamish Hamilton 352pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

‘Posterity, take notice!’ is an exhortation that appears twenty-three times in the posthumously published diary of Roland Bouley, a provincial bookseller and frustrated novelist. The only person taking notice, however, is 81-year-old Lilia Liska, a three-time widow and mother of five, who spends her days in a California nursing home annotating its pages.

Lilia and Roland had a fling just after the Second World War, when she was sixteen. While Lilia was marginalia to him, earning only a few mentions in his diary, Roland played a significant role in her life, as she conceived a child during the brief affair. Their daughter, Lucy, of whom Roland was never made aware, committed suicide at the age of twenty-seven, when her daughter was two months old. Lilia’s efforts at annotation are ostensibly to leave a record for her granddaughter. But what she really hopes to gain by dissecting the diary is clues to Roland’s character that might help her make sense of Lucy’s death.

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