An Uncertain Age by Ulrica Hume
16th Oct 2012
When a middle-aged American woman, Justine, meets the very English Miles Peabody on the Eurostar to Paris, her life is as uncertain as her looks.
Once ‘the pretty one’ in her family, she’s been stripped of everything except her dream of becoming an artist…and her longing for love.
Strangely drawn to the elderly and eccentric man, Justine is considering accompanying him on a spiritual pilgrimage when he disappears.
Rather than ending her search for meaning, Miles’ disappearance sweeps Justine on an inner journey in which, helped by two women — her contrasting spiritual guides, the agnostic Gwynneth and the devout Hindi Dara — she has to unravel the mysteries of faith, love and even life itself.
On her website, Hume describes herself as a labyrinth guide- and labyrinthine is certainly an apt description of An Uncertain Age.
Meandering through the maze of philosophical, literary and artistic quotes and references, a reader stumbles across hidden gems of wisdom.
The string that holds these gems together is Hume’s beguiling prose, while the cast of unconventional characters, as well as Justine’s struggle to find meaning in both the external, temporal world around her and in her inner, spiritual world, gently lead the reader on their own journey of both discovery and understanding.
At nearly 400 pages, this is a long, slow read, which could have benefited from more focus. That said, the research is meticulous and, while the detail slows the pace considerably, it’s both important to the story and interesting to read.
This intertexuality, which drives the plot forward in the shape of philosophical discussions between the characters, reflects not only the interconnectedness of the world’s religions but also the continuum of the many ages that humanity has been searching for spiritual meaning through a connection to the Divine (in whatever shape or form).
Dense with subtle symbolism, ranging from an archaic cobbler to bees and colours, An Uncertain Age is a multifaceted book that encourages the reader to pause, ponder and philosophise on the cause and effect of our own life choices.
Recommended for: Readers of philosophy and spiritual truth-seekers.