Book Title: The Keep
Author: Jennifer Egan
Genres: Suspense, Adult Fiction
Pub Date: Reprint 7-10-07
Award-winning author Jennifer Egan brilliantly conjures a world from which escape is impossible and where the keep-–the tower, the last stand-–is both everything worth protecting and the very thing that must be surrendered in order to survive.
Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank, reunite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story that seamlessly brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation.
I originally read The Keep in 2006 and re-read it for the 48-hour Reading Challenge in June of 2007 (as well as for a reading group I was in at the time). It is extremely rare that I ever re-read a book, but this is definitely one that I broke away from tradition (and will probably re-read again in the very near future).
I was fascinated with this book upon first read, and then even more so the second time around.
There is a very big twist at the end that even reading a second time around it was still hard to pick up on. Jennifer Egan reminds me of a female Chuck Palahniuk…think twist at the end of Fight Club or Invisible Monsters. Here is the general premise without giving away too much.
Cousin Danny goes to work at a castle in Europe for his estranged cousin Howie. We learn they are estranged as Danny and another cousin pulled a nasty prank on Howie at a family picnic. Early on the reader finds out that Howie was in a cave for three days…alone.
Howie has overcome the past and became a very powerful man. He’s invested renovating this castle so that it can become a hostel oasis. Danny had to leave New York, and is very self-centered and tech dependent. But then again somehow Danny has a number of harrowing events of his own while at the castle.
Interspersed throughout the book is another storyline about Ray who is in jail, and the writing course that he is taking from his teacher Holly.
Definitely, one of my top favorite books. Everything comes together at the end in a way that readers will interpret differently. That’s why I love this book…wonder what others will think. And then when I read it again 10 years later, will I have the same thought about the ending? Food for thought.