Noah's Compass: A Novel
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Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn’t bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new and spare condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged. His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is . . . well, something quite different.
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remember! And Mr. C. is falling farther and farther behind. I’m working as hard as I can, but even so … I suppose pretty soon he’ll have to retire.” She gave Liam a brief, perky smile and said, “So we’d better get busy, right? I won’t have an inside track with Cope Development for much longer.” She placed her cup and saucer on the lamp table and bent to rummage through her purse. “First I’ll just jot down some of your facts,” she said. She brought forth a steno pad and a ballpoint pen. “I get a
came as a surprise, it could,” Eunice said. “But wouldn’t someone have told her? Do she and Kitty not talk?” “I don’t think any of them talk,” Liam said. This struck him as odd, all at once. He said, “But I may be mistaken.” “At least I can say now that I’ve met your entire family,” Eunice said. He didn’t know why he felt a momentary impulse to correct her. He wasn’t thinking of his sister, surely. Was it Barbara? No, how ridiculous. He said, “So you have.” Then he said, “And I’ve met exactly
“I was thirty-two years old at the time and still not married and had never yet held a job in my chosen field. I was selling clothes in this dress shop that belonged to a friend of my mom’s, but I could tell she was about to let me go.” Liam wondered how Eunice would have managed without her mother’s network of friends. “And he was thirty-four and not married either and his whole world was his work. He worked at a lab down at Hopkins; he still does. Another biology major. I suppose they thought
“No, but, you know.” “In fact, I’ve got Kitty staying with me at this very moment.” “Do you now!” His father smoothed the point of his tie. Really the two of them had nothing to say to each other. Why did Liam have to learn this all over again on every visit? They tried, though. Both of them tried. His father said, “How is Kitty, by the way?” “She’s fine,” Liam said. “She’s working this summer in a dentist’s office.” “Thinking of being a dental hygienist, is she.” “Why, no. It’s just a
on for a very long time. Liam made no attempt to end it. “You are surely not saying that Esther Jo and I ruined your mother’s life,” Bard said. Liam didn’t answer. To be honest, he didn’t know what he was saying. This conversation wasn’t one he’d planned on having. “Or your life,” Bard said. “No, of course not,” Liam said finally. “So! What do you call this little thing?” Bard asked. He was looking at Liam’s car. “I call it a Geo Prizm,” Liam said. He took his keys from his pocket. “I