The Whole World

Allison & Busby, London
HarperCollins, New York

American students Polly and Liv are giddy over the accents and architecture of Cambridge University. They both fall for the same charming graduate student. Then he disappears. Told through five narrators whose personal obsessions limit what each of them sees, THE WHOLE WORLD is the story of the desperation...

American students Polly and Liv are giddy over the accents and architecture of Cambridge University. They both fall for the same charming graduate student.

Then he disappears.

Told through five narrators whose personal obsessions limit what each of them sees, THE WHOLE WORLD is the story of the desperation and malice that take them by surprise while they’re all looking elsewhere.

FROM THE FIRST PAGE:
"Come on," Nick said, tugging my arm. He dragged me past the plesiosaur and iguanodon skeletons, and unlocked a stairwell. He prodded the elevator button within. It had one of those old iron grilles, which he shoved aside for entry. He pressed me against the back wall of the box and kissed me.

He has lovely hands. Later, when the people making "missing" posters asked for a detailed description of him, I uselessly went on about his perfect hands.
FROM THE FIRST PAGE:
"Come on," Nick said, tugging my arm. He dragged me past the plesiosaur and iguanodon skeletons, and unlocked a stairwell. He prodded the elevator button within. It had one of those old iron grilles, which he shoved aside for entry. He pressed me against the back wall of the box and kissed me.

He has lovely hands. Later, when the people making "missing" posters asked for a detailed description of him, I uselessly went on about his perfect hands.

When the lift went ping at the top floor, he stalked out down a long, dingy hallway. I trotted after him. I'd forgotten that he has an office up in Earth Sciences--but of course he would. It's a tiny space, nothing more than books and a coffee maker and a desk and a lock on the door, which is enough. We perched on the desk and he pulled my face to his.

I don't think he meant for much more than petting--he doesn't seem like someone who would rush anything. But when he unbuttoned my shirt, I said no. I'm certain I did, but it got muffled in his cheek. So he undid the next button. I shoved his shoulder, hard, and said no again. He was surprised, I think. I was too. I mean, it's fine to say no to anything, but this was abrupt. He leaned in to kiss me again. I don't think he deliberately ignored me; I think he was just on a roll. So was I, frankly. I kissed him back, which was disorienting--he had a right to be even more confused. It was all so...

There was this line. I wanted to be on one side of it. I tried to stay there, and haul him back there. But he couldn't see the line. All he knew was that I was still leaning into him. He kissed me all down my neck, and then lower, down into where my shirt was open from the first two buttons. It made me crazy, in a good way, and it made me angry, which was strange. I shoved him so hard that he was suddenly standing; I had pushed him off the desk onto his feet. I leaned over the other side of the desk and vomited into his rubbish bin. It had papers in it, not crumpled, just all smooth and rounded, clinging to the side of the basket. I vomited in it, and then over it onto the floor.

The sounds were horrible. I tried to stop. I covered up my mouth but just ended up with stuff on my sleeve.

Nick put his hand on my back. I elbowed him off. More stuff came out of me. I didn't think I'd eaten enough for it to go on this long.
When it finally stopped I held still. A minute flipped on his clock, one of those old "digital" clocks that has the numbers on little cards attached to an axle.

Nick said something. I made a noise to cover it up and bolted. I didn't wait for the elevator, instead I lurched onto the stairs, which I hadn't realized go on forever. Every corner I turned there was another flight down. I passed the museum level by mistake. Then the ground floor stopped everything.

Through the window in the stairwell door I saw a dozen students gathered, for a club or a meeting. My shirt was still open at the top. I turned to the wall and buttoned it up.

I wanted to brush my teeth. I wanted to change my clothes. I went back up one flight to get my jacket from the window seat in the gem room. On Trumpington Street I started running.

REVIEWS

 

“Winslow’s novel is so self-assured, so well-constructed and so chilling that the reader is left in awe by the young author’s accomplished debut…’The Whole World’ shines as a potent look at the self-absorption and angst of youth and the regrets and doubts of middle age.”
– The Richmond Times-Dispatch

“[An] engrossing debut…The pieces come together to reveal a vivid and shocking picture at the end of this novel of literary suspense.”
– Parade magazine top summer pick

“A first novel about growing up, having sex and going seriously off the rails at Cambridge University.”
– Palm Beach Post summer reading list

“What a ride! Read this book.” – Decatur Daily

“Winslow’s characters ring true: her undergraduates’ self-absorption, insecurity and penchant for drama…The later-in-life disappointments and posturing of the professor, her husband and the cop…An absorbing whole complete in all its parts.”
– The Portsmouth Herald

“All these moving parts make for a really absorbing read…What has kept the book in my thoughts since I finished it, however, is not its formal complexity, but the prose it’s written in…revealing just enough to chill and compel through the final pages.”
– New Haven Review

“Winslow excels at describing the unique architecture and ambience of Cambridge while gradually creating a chilling, psychologically creepy atmosphere.” – Booklist

“An exciting new voice in British crime fiction. Emily is an American with an especial fondness for the Cambridge and fen district of our country, and her knowledge of it shines through. The method of unfolding the story through the eyes of five different protagonists is something that’s been touched upon in TV drama but I can’t recall it being done as efficiently and as engagingly as this. Absolutely brilliant!”
– Books Monthly book of the month

“A university town setting for a crime novel may put readers in mind of Morse for a while, but this is a different beast. When a body is discovered, it does so out of left field. With narration switching every few chapters to a new voice, the safety of characters is never assured. This is a psychological tangle of relationships, credibly woven and far from predictable. There’s no country-house formula to The Whole World, and, while a British police detective is one of the narrators, he is far from the epicenter. Every character is well-rounded, their backstory not merely fleshed out, but essential to their purpose and fate.”
– The American

“Allegations of murder and a devastating accident are the catalysts in this dense, languid story which fuses [a] mysterious past with present-day traumas.” – Curled Up with a Good Book

“The narrative is set up a bit like a puzzle, switching point of views five times through the novel and each time giving us a clearer picture of events…I really enjoyed reading this one.” – Presenting Lenore

“I [savored] the lovely language, the story Winslow created for me, and the competing ideas of just what exactly constitutes ‘the whole world.’ Highly recommended.”
– Devourer of Books

“I loved the Cambridge setting and the way Winslow made it such a strong part of the story. Her characterizations were really well done, thoughtfully created with subtlety and depth. Psychologically the book had a lot going on, much like the works of Ruth Rendell and Tana French.”
– Reading is my Superpower

“I could not wait to read The Whole World. Every minute was astonishing.” – I Read Novels

“‘You can run, but you can’t hide…’ might be the theme of this debut novel from Winslow. Beautifully written, but filled with sorrowful revelations that speak to how closely we’re tied to our pasts, this one soars right from the beginning. By small degrees, Winslow reveals what she wants to, with each revelation coming as a complete surprise that takes readers down unexpected avenues that chillingly amaze. Twists and turns make this one highly readable, and intricately carved characters make it just as highly memorable. Can’t wait to see what this new author comes out with next; no doubt it will be great.”
– New Mystery Reader

“Winslow writes exquisitely and with great honesty, each character picking up the narrative and adding his or her own complex history so the result is a rich, multi-layered tale. The imagery is compelling: you can see the cascade of paper snowflakes, the shine of lights in the wet English rain. I was well past the halfway mark before I realized that The Whole World is about much, much more than what happened to one young man in the middle of an ordinary day.”
– Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here

“Readers lured into the pages of this intense psychological mystery are in for no gentle ride, as rivalries and jealousies know no bounds in Emily Winslow’s intriguing debut novel, The Whole World, set amidst Cambridge’s dreaming spires.”
– Richard Reynolds, Heffers, Cambridge, England

The Whole World
By Emily Winslow