We finished last chapter on a cliffhanger, with the Catchers potentially about to find Anna and Peter hiding out in Mrs Sharpe’s shed. But since there’s 35% of the book remaining, we know that things have to work out somehow.
Anna and Peter are hiding either behind or under some curtains.
“[Peter] had matter-of-factly found the best position for them.”
Of course he had. Peter is amazing and perfect. He also makes sure Anna is warm enough, of course, because he’s also sickeningly protective.
“Without thinking, she reached out her hand and found his, squeezing it tightly. Then Peter pressed her head onto his shoulder and before she knew it they were wrapped around each other, arms clasped so tightly they felt almost like one.”
Let’s recall that Peter was randomly obsessed with Anna for ages, that they’ve known each other for about five minutes, and that this closeness is probably due to shared fear and trauma. What a recipe for a relationship that will last for three books!
The Catchers are eager to get into the shed, but Mrs Sharpe is reluctant, claiming her husband keeps valuable antiques in there. Who keeps antiques and curtains in a garden shed? A garage, sure, but sheds are usually a bit damp and leaky.
Anyway, Mrs Sharpe discovers that the key isn’t in its usual place, but after a suspicious pause, claims that her husband has it. She then invokes the fact that her husband is an important person in order to make the Catchers go away.
With the Catchers gone, we switch properly to Mrs Sharpe’s perspective. She switches on the computer and thinks expositionally about climate change and how the world is running out of energy. There’s an interesting aside about how universities closed because there were no students, which got me to thinking about how academia would work with no one new, and no one retiring. Would people make great discoveries because they had years to hone and perfect their research? Would numerous postdocs get disillusioned because no new permanent positions ever opened up? Would work suffer because there were no impressionable young PhD students to give all the donkey work to? This is a far more interesting topic to me than most of this book.
Mrs Sharpe then gets a call from her friend Barbara, who has heard about the Surplus escape. In order to contrast with Mrs Sharpe, who is supposed to be kindly and open minded, Barbara is a closed-minded bigot who thinks all Surpluses should be killed. To be honest, I don’t think Mrs Sharpe is a particularly amazing and forward thinking person; she’s basically merely as nice as the plot requires her to be.
Since she’s pretty sure that Anna and Peter must be hiding out in her shed, Mrs Sharpe decides to go out and investigate. Along the way, she thinks about her own daughter (who was born before The Declaration).
“Julia had been delighted when it turned out to be a girl. Someone to go shopping with, to have a bit of a gossip with.”
Oh goody, more gender stereotypes.
Back in the shed, and Peter is mistrustful of Mrs Sharpe’s approach. But because the plot must progress, he acquiesces to Anna’s insistence that she must be trustworthy, and the two emerge from the shed.
Meanwhile, we get to check in on a couple more characters. Evil Mrs Pinsent is busy being evil, and is delighted that lead Catcher Fred (whom I envision as one of the two lackeys from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians) is just as much of an evil liberal-hater as she is. She also recalls Anna’s connection with Mrs Sharpe – the pressure is on!
And as if that weren’t enough, a very pissed off Sheila is still at Grange Hall. She’s annoyed that Anna left her behind, and she also has the diary that details Anna’s exact plans. Jeopardy is closing in from all sides – how can our heroes possibly escape?