On Chapel Sands
**THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER**
**SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD**
‘A modern masterpiece’ Guardian
Uncovering the mystery of her mother’s disappearance as a child: Laura Cumming, prize-winning author and art critic, takes a closer look at her family story.
Autumn 1929 – a young girl is kidnapped from a beach. Five agonising days go by before she is discovered safe and well in a nearby village. The child remembers nothing of these events and at home, nobody ever speaks of them again.
Decades later, Laura Cumming delves into the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance. Examining everything from old family photos to letters, tickets and recipes, she uncovers a series of secrets and lies perpetuated not just by her family but by the whole community and in doing so unlocks a mystery almost a century old.
‘A moving, many-sided human story of great depth and tenderness, and a revelation of how art enriches life’ Sunday Times
Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction
Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize
Longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize
*A SPECTATOR BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020*
By turns beautiful, wistful, and ominous... the reasons behind the kidnap, and the repurcussions, are every bit as complex as any served up by fiction, and, oddly enough, the denouement -- or succession of denouements -- is just as satisfying, perhaps more so... a meditation on the way some people disappear, and time erases memory... so familiar as to be universal, and will probably ring bells with all but the sunniest reader (***** Five Stars) -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday * Brilliant... This book is a love letter to her [Cumming's] mother, whose warmth, articulacy and survival instincts shine though. It's also an intimate portrait of a village community, with its storybook characters (butcher, baker, dairyman, bell-ringer, gravedigger) and their wonderful old-fashioned names -- Blake Morrison * Guardian * Cumming skilfully withholds key twists in the tale, revealing them at just the right moment. There are surprises, but no shocks. Her prose is too elegant for such gaudiness - composed and restrained but empathetic -- Leaf Arbuthnot * The Times * On Chapel Sands is much more than a search for truth. It is a moving, many-sided human story of great depth and tenderness, and a revelation of how art enriches life. In short, a masterpiece -- John Carey * Sunday Times * *Memoir of the Year* How we see -- and who see and what secrets they choose to share -- is at the heart of this exquisitely composed memoir... A peerless detective story that keeps you guessing to the end * The Sunday Times *
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