How far would you go for those you love the most?
When Louise McKenzie’s mother is reported missing after the Boxing Day tsunami, Louise leaves her young family and travels to Thailand. There, she finds a bag containing her mother’s passport and a book filled with beautifully illustrated maps: The Atlas of Us, belonging to a woman named Claire.
Who is Claire? How was Louise’s mom connected to her? And might the atlas help Louise find the answers she needs – and her mom?
As Louise pores over the keepsakes hidden amongst its pages, she pieces together the mystery of a love affair, a dark tragedy and a secret both Claire and her mother would go to the ends of the earth to protect.
How does it feel to be published in the US?
When I discovered I was going to be published in the US, I was so delighted, especially because in my capacity as a travel magazine editor a few years back, I had the opportunity to visit the gorgeous country. And one city held a special place in my heart: San Francisco. I just adored it, from the heart-stopping zigzag taxi drive down Lombard Street to the walk I enjoyed on a beautiful clear day past the city’s famous ‘painted ladies.’
While there, when I was scribbling notes down for the article I was due to write, in the back of my mind I knew those same notes would be used one day to write a novel. And when the idea for The Lost Mother came to me, I just knew San Francisco had to play a role in it. When it came to writing the novel, I delved into the city’s history and was drawn to those tragic days of the earthquake. It felt totally natural for Claire, one of the main characters in The Lost Mother, to end up living in this beautiful city, herself scarred from tragedies of her past and ready to start healing.
I’ll leave you with an extract from the chapter based in San Francisco and maybe one day, I’ll return to the city and see someone reading The Lost Mother as they look out over the Golden Gate Bridge...
‘Look at me, Jay,’ she said, gesturing to her designer dress and shoes. ‘Is this the Claire you met two years ago, the colour-clashing mess who placed more importance on the memories her clothes held than how they looked? We’ve both said how right it is that we’re here in San Francisco considering it was ravished by an earthquake but was able to rise from the flames. But you do know there are still scars in the earth from the earthquake, don’t you? They do an Earthquake Trail so people can see them. It’s like us. The scars will never go away, no matter how much we try to paper them over. We have to accept them, dig down to our true selves, not try to cover the pain with gloss.’
‘Yeah. You, you deal with your mum’s death by dating one gorgeous stick-thin model after another. And me? I work harder, party harder. And now here we are, waiting for the century to tick over at a party to end all parties, packed with the great and good of San Francisco’s media set. It’s just—’ – ‘
A man walked past. A dash of brown hair, pale skin, dark stubble. He slowly turned and Claire held her breath, heart like thunder.
It wasn’t Milo.
‘Just what?’ Jay asked.
‘Oh, I don’t know.’
She turned to stare at her face in the reflection of the window. It blended into the ocean below. A gust of winter wind swept over the water, the ripples creating scars on her skin.