A man turns up in New Zealand in the early years of the twentieth century as if out of nowhere. He admits to no past, only to a present and a future; and he reinvents himself as a Catholic businessman. But the pressure of keeping a secret, of having to live with a repressed truth, eventually becomes too great. He disintegrates, emotionally and physically, leaving his family sparse clues to his origins and identity.
Michael King investigates a mystery that had engaged his extended family for over half a century. The answers he finds are astonishing and link that Irish-Catholic family back to Australia, the United States, England, and ultimately to Galicia in what is now south-east Poland.
As King notes, most stories are based on one of only two plots: somebody goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town. This one had its beginnings in both scenarios, a man setting out on a quest and the arrival of a stranger. It has the additional merit of being true.
,i>At the Edge of Memory will have a powerful resonance for all families whose ranks have been scattered by persecution or migration; it also casts a disturbing light on the specifically Christian ingredients of anti-Semitism.