Julian and Annie have only just announced their forthcoming marriage when Annie’s twelve-year-old son, Dan, fails to come home from school. Despite an extensive police investigation, the days turn into weeks and it is as if Dan has vanished into thin air.
Over the next three years Annie refuses to give up hope that somewhere her son is alive and will one day return home. Julian, meanwhile, can’t help but yearn for Annie to put the past behind her and move on. Then, out of the blue, a call brings shocking news of Dan’s fate. And far from being over, it seems the mystery of his disappearance is only just beginning.
In spare, searing prose, Deceptions addresses our simultaneous need for—and wariness of—human connection and the extremes that we are driven to by these competing impulses. Marking British literary star Rebecca Frayn’s arrival in the United States, this is fiction at its riveting best.
Reading Group Guide
Julian and Annie have just announced their upcoming marriage, when the unthinkable occurs—Annie’s son, Dan, disappears on his way home from school. An intense search is conducted, but Dan has vanished. Determined to remain optimistic, Annie sees her son’s face everywhere she goes, and she tells her younger daughter, Rachel, that her brother has simply gone away on a long trip. As the weeks turn into months, and months into years, Julian urges Annie to move on, longing for the woman he once knew and loved. But Annie refuses to give up hope. Three years later, her faith seems to pay off when Dan reappears. As the family adapts to the return of their son and brother, who is now a stranger, Julian can’t ignore the doubts festering in his mind, causing him to question everything he thinks he knows.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. At the beginning of the novel, Annie proclaims, “We’re just a perfectly average happy family, aren’t we?” (p. 19) Do Julian’ see more