An amazing and beautifully written novel about two museum guards, one an eccentric uncle, the other his orphaned nephew, DeFoe. By day they spend their time curating an art collection, breaking the silence of the museum with heated conversation; by night we learn about their loves and past histories. DeFoe is in love with Imogen, the young caretaker of the sole small Jewish cemetery in Halifax Nova Scotia, where the novel begins in 1938. She becomes obssessed with a Dutch painting called Jewess on a Street in Amsterdam and abandons her life to look for nobility in the intensity of life in Amsterdam for Jews in the late 30s.
The book is an examination of the desire to step out of the everyday and into action, with a startling conclusion. With echoes of the holocaust and of a world lost but not forgotten, this is a poignant and perfect novel of great power.
Howard Norman is the author of several novels, including The Museum Guard and The Haunting of L., both published by Picador. He lives with his family in Vermont.