Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Disguise, by Hugo Hamilton, is about a family post World War II. During the final stages of the war, a mother loses her baby son in an explosion; to console her, her father finds an orphaned Jewish baby boy of the same age, and convinces her to treat him as her own. She never tells her husband that the child is not theirs. A friend of the family alludes to it during the boy's teenage years, but the mother denies it vehemently, and the boy is left with lingering doubts about his origins and a displaced sense of belonging. The novel is about identity, unease, and deception, but as the Guardian reviewer notes, it is 'haunting' and 'oddly consoling.' It's told out of chronological order, from the perspective of the boy looking back at the age of 60, and is beautifully written and very engaging.