The Rise & Fall of Great Powers begins in a dusty bookshop. What follows is an abduction, heated political debate, glimpses into strangers’ homes, and travel around the globe. It’s a novel of curious personalities, mystery, and lots of books: volumes that the characters collect, covet, steal.
Tooly Zylberberg, owner of a bookshop in the Welsh countryside, spends most of her life reading. Yet there’s one tale that never made sense: her own life. In childhood, she was spirited away from home, then raised around Asia, Europe and the United States. But who were the people who brought her up? And what ever happened to them?
There was Humphrey, a curmudgeon from Russia; there was the charming but tempestuous Sarah, who hailed from Kenya; and there was Venn, the charismatic leader who transformed Tooly forever. Until, quite suddenly, he vanished.
Years later, she has lost hope of ever knowing what took place. Then, the old mysteries stir again, sending her – and the reader – on a hunt through place and time, from Wales to Bangkok to New York to Italy, from the 1980’s to the Year 2000 to the present, from the end of the Cold War, to the rise and wobbles of U.S. power, to the digital revolution of today.
Gradually, all secrets are revealed…