So post-apocalyptic fiction is really hot right now. I have quite a bit of it in my to read pile. And I’m really not in the mood for it. Consequently, I’ve been rereading a bunch of books this year in a happier vein. Like fairy tales. This is the lead up to say that I probably didn’t enjoy this book as much as I would have if I’d been in a different head space while reading it. (I picked it up because it was the oldest unread book on my Kindle.)
The story weaves back and forth between the time before and after a pandemic has wiped out most of the world’s population. It’s centered on Arthur Leander – an actor who has a heart attack and dies on stage a day or two before all hell breaks loose.
Twenty years on, and those who are left live in small villages. In the area around Toronto, a group of musicians and actors has formed together as the Traveling Symphony – playing music and performing Shakespeare as they travel around to these villages. The initial connection is a young woman named Kirsten – she had been a child actor in the play that Arthur Leander was doing when he died. He had been kind to her, and he looms large in her life, probably because the pandemic was so close after his death.
The story weaves back and forth between Arthur’s screwed up life (three wives, one son he never sees, plenty of tabloid action), and the surprising links it has to the future. It’s all about the interconnectedness. And it’s very well done. It’s even moderately hopeful in the end, which is never a given with this kind of story. But like I said, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was in a better headspace for it.