Monday, February 13, 2012

267 (2012 #12). The Year of Fog

by Michelle Richmond

Abby Mason is a photographer engaged to Jake Balfour.  One day in July, she takes Jake's six-year-old daughter down to a San Francisco beach on a foggy day.  She stops to take a picture of a seal pup, and when she looks up, Emma is gone.

The Year of Fog recounts the year Abby spends looking for Emma, beyond the time when others, including Jake, have given up.  Abby thinks Emma was kidnapped, not drowned, and wracks her memory trying to come up with some detail that will crack the case.  Through her search for Emma, Abby discovers a lot about herself and her family background.

Michelle Richmond's beautiful writing includes research and observations on the nature of memory and the art and techniques of photography. (I thought it was interesting that Abby also works with a Holga camera.)  I love a statement she makes through Abby on page 271 about photographing people:  "the image I've created...in my mind is not about the subject...so much as it is about the person I was when I knew him."

It's also obvious that Richmond knows San Francisco well, as the action in the book takes place all over the city and nearby areas.  She even has a Google Map on her site pinpointing locations in the book, with quotations from it.  At the Silicon Valley Reads 2011 program at the Palo Alto Arts Center on February 17, 2011, she said the book was written as a "love letter" to San Francisco and the Bay Area, a "story that could not take place anywhere else."

This story is suspenseful without being creepy.  This book had been in my TBR stacks for a while - I'm glad my book club chose to read it.

© Amanda Pape - 2012

[I purchased a copy of this book at the local Friends of the Library book sale.]

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