Mapping the Edge by Sarah Dunant
One of the reviews of Mapping the Edge describes it as "like a European film--cool, highly sexual, creating a dazzling surface of translucence." Another said "but the subtext of the novel--how loyalties are strained, how relationships change--is every bit as important as the surface excitements".1 Both are true and they really give readers an idea of what the book is like.
Anna takes a spur-of-the-moment trip to Italy and doesn't return on the day she's expected back. Mapping the Edge, the story of Anna's disappearance, is told through three different storylines. The first is that of those left behind: Anna's two best friends and her young daughter. The second storyline is one possible version of the events that happen in Italy: Anna is abducted on her way to the airport for her return flight and is being held against her will by a mentally-disturbed man. The third is an alternate version: Anna's married lover convinces her to stay on in Italy; she isn't aware that her delay is cause for concern.
At first I was quite put off by the two possible "away" narratives told simultaneously even though I understood what Dunant was trying to do. As I settled into the book, the jumps were less problematic and I started to get invested in Anna and her possible futures. Of course at the end of Mapping the Edge we don't know if either of the away-narratives were true (very foreign-movie like).
- these are from the back-cover blurbs of my (British) edition), credited to Observer and Literary Review respectively.