It is always good to get home but look at those clouds and those weeds. 🙂
From the acclaimed Nordic Council Literature Prize winner, a story that reveals the devastating effects of mistaking silence for peace and feeling shame for inevitable circumstances
Eva and Simon have spent most of their adult lives together. He is a physician and she is a teacher, and they have three grown daughters and a comfortable home. Yet what binds them together isn’t only affection and solidarity but also the painful facts of their respective histories, which they keep hidden even from their own children. But after the abrupt dismissal of their housekeeper and Simon’s increasing withdrawal into himself, the past can no longer be repressed.
Lindstrøm has crafted a masterpiece about the grave mistakes we make when we misjudge the legacy of war, common prejudices, and our own strategies of survival.
A quiet and disturbing story of secrets, of words not spoken, and pasts not mentioned; a story about an adoption, the Holocaust, Survivors Guilt and dementia. A very unusual mix of subjects discussed in a quiet and unassuming manner. I am not quite sure how I feel about this book…it certainly was an interesting read, delving into the pasts of an aging couple, unlocking their secrets, I felt a bit like a voyeur privy to their intimate secrets.
I did not understand why they kept such secrets from their adult children… it would have made their relationships so much easier to have spoken of the past, though I do admit that some subjects are more difficult than others to discuss openly and maybe that is the point of this book; to make us aware that these things do need to be spoken about. Maybe this is a story about forgiveness…if we can’t forgive ourselves for our past actions then we cannot share our selves fully with those we love. Shame and guilt are destructive. Maybe this is also a story about ethnicity … how some reactions/prejudices have not changed with time. That is a very sad point to acknowledge.
I felt the book finished abruptly. Maybe I just wanted more? My feelings about this book are ambiguous
Happy Birthday Angela.
Wishing you lots of love and cupcakes 🙂
Pan Macmillian Aust Pty Ltd
It feels like the safest place on earth. A family-friendly, floating palace. But, as Anya Crichton soon discovers, cruise ships aren’t all that they seem…Statistics tell us that a woman is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted on a cruise ship than on dry land. Customers aren’t screened, so the ships are a haven for sex offenders and paedophiles. With no policing, and floating in international waters, sexual assaults and passengers ‘disappearing’ are uncommonly frequent…So when a teenage girl is discovered, dead on the deck of the ship that she is holidaying on, Anya feels compelled to get involved. There’s no apparent cause of death, but Anya’s forensics expertise uncovers more than the ship’s doctors can…or want to. With the killer still on board, and subsequently a crew-member found shot, it becomes clear that the safe haven of the cruise-ship is actually anything but. And, as Anya comes under increasing pressure to abandon her investigations, will she continue? Or do whatever it takes to keep her own family safe?
I have read the entire Dr Anya Crichton series and feel that this is perhaps the weakest. Whilst the main characters are likable and a known entity that I feel comfortable with, the narrative for me felt a little preachy – and I think this spoilt rather than enhanced the story. I felt we were lectured on a range of issues including but not limited to exploitation of labourers from third world countries, cruise ship ecological damage/pollution, excesses of wealth – in the form of over indulgence in food, alcohol, use of drugs, gambling, and overt the top discretionary spending. Then we explore the issue of recreational drug use, and date rape. I think the lectures were a little heavy handed; the messages could have been delivered in a more subtle manner that did not detract from the narrative. There was little tension in the narrative, maybe because of the emphasis on “lessons”. All in all an average read, suitable for a light holiday indulgence for the fans of this author. I wish I could have liked this more.
The past few days we have been “off the grid” at Nanga Bay – the caravan park is named “Nanga Bay Resort” but dont be fooled by the term resort – maybe it was once but not these days… yes there is a spa and pool – but they need a bit of TLC, but what there is, is plenty of space, close access to a lovely beach, a small shop and restaurant, clean ablution blocks, some motel style and self contained units, drinking water from rain water tanks and lots of quiet and sunshine ( and no internet or mobile phone coverage), and good fishing – we are told. 🙂 Ideal.
Our set up – Nanga Bay
Too Close to Home
Shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferiss Award. Too Close To Home takes us right inside who we really are.
How tenuous the links are that build a life.
Freya writes uncomfortable domestic dramas. Her friends work in theatre and film, show in galleries, talk politics and are trying new ways of having children with friends. These are the people who are slowly gentrifying the next ring of inner-city suburbs while praising their diversity.
As the stultifying heat of summer descends, Shane, an Aboriginal man, moves up the road. He was once close to Matt, Freya’s partner, and he not only brings with him a different approach to life, he also has news of a boy who might be Matt’s son. Despite wanting to embrace all that Shane represents and the possibility of another child in their life, Freya and Matt stumble, failing each other and their beliefs.
The first few chapters did not inspire me to read much further –I don’t know why, they just did not engage me but I forged on and soon found myself totally engrossed in this narrative. It is a gently told story of relationships, of how the individual person can be political and of modern day suburban Australia, and I am pleased I read this book. It did make me think, it made me a little sad; the revealing of personal prejudices, personal stories which for me asked one important question – how do you describe and define family?
Although written a few years ago the political references and conundrums haven’t changed, they are still relevant today; including but not limited to climate change, refugees, Indigenous rights, unemployment, cost of housing, youth mental health concerns… Australian politics still remains a two person race and not one of any real choice. Where is the leadership? Blain’s writing is mostly subtle as she gently prods our conscience and asks us to think about prejudices and family, mostly she is subtle; sometime she out and out shouts her political concerns to anyone who will hear. Are we listening? I was, her concerns held real meaning to me.
The big question that I feel was raised in this book was about caring for others, (p.223 Matt to Freya) “But am I only allowed to help if there is a genetic link – is my care and compassion limited to that? You and your friends sit around complaining about how little is done for others and you never look at yourselves. All I can do is make a decision about the way I think I should behave in the circumstances – and I want to help.”
Isn’t that all anyone can do/should do? These few sentences condense the issues of the book and of society today, issues that are very close to home.
“Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.”
Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep-flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.
All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.
With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
This is how I judge a good book:
The narrative is engaging, unique or has perspective that I hadn’t considered before.
The book makes me think.
I can place myself in the setting.
I like at least some/all of the main characters.
The characters are 3 dimensional.
The writing flows, the dialogue is natural.
I think about the book and its message long after I finish reading the last page.
My emotions are engaged… sometimes overwhelmed…
I can’t put the book down; I must read till the end.
The Returned ticks all these boxes. A great read. A premise that was interesting and unique (though at some point in our lives I think we have all considered the question, what happens when we die?) This novel takes this question one step further and suggests the dead can return and then looks at the chaos and the joy that erupts, looks at how we all approach life…and death and dying; the choices we make in how we live our lives, to the full or with regrets and anger.
This is a gently written, elegant debut novel. Its power lies is its gentle prose. This is a stunning read that had me gently weeping at the end. This book made me think not only of the Returned in “government controlled camps” but the plight of refugees and “illegal immigrants” suffering similar fates; the judgements, the bigotry, the unkindness and small mindedness, the fear, that determines how we treat “others”, a problem that is haunting Australia today. A great read, a great story, be prepared to be totally engaged and involved.
We did a bit of sight seeing – wandered around the various picturesque bays and lookouts including the Boardwalk at Eagle Bluff – stunning views from here. The winds calmed down in the afternoon and we sat outside enjoying the sunshine, reading books with a cider or two. Life is good. 🙂
Boardwalk – Eagle Bluff.
View from the Boardwalk
Last night we arrived in Denham, it is still very breezy – we cant seem to escape this wind! Despite the wind we are still enjoying the travelling/caravan lifestyle and cant wait to embark on a longer trek early in the new year. We are thinking of heading East to a coast we have not yet explored (and a few wineries). 🙂