7 May 2011

Past The Shallows by Favel Parrett

Hachette

I was pleasantly surprised to discover one of my former (Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing) classmates’ novels in print. My admiration increased immensely when I read Past the Shallows; it is, quite simply, breathtaking. In a small community on a forbidding stretch of Tasmanian coast, brothers Harry and Miles’ lives are ruled by the sea. The shadow of their Mother’s death hangs in the air; questions remain and, although Harry was too young to remember the accident, Miles is beginning to piece things together. Through the eyes of the two boys, the reader is taken on a poignant and unexpected journey. Beautiful, tragic and highly evocative in it’s portrayal of the ocean, the author’s sparse prose hits just the right notes; never too much information nor too little. Past the Shallows is a story that lingers long after reading. You will feel compelled to tell your friends about it; lend it to them; give it as a gift! Although I had access to a ‘free’ copy, I will buy this novel (not least to support the publication of new local authors, but) because it’s a ‘keeper’; something to treasure and re-read. Highly recommended.

BiP staff review by Penny

The Precipice by Virginia Duigan

Vintage

I grabbed this book purely on face value - i.e. the jacket and the title which conspired to make me think I was in for a dark tale full of drama and suspense. I was, however, unprepared when the crunch finally came. This is mainly due to Dugian's skill at lulling us into a false sense of security amid the idyllic landscape of the Blue Mountains. She also distracts us with convincing characters. Her main character, Thea, is so comfortable in this environment that when she leads us to the actual precipice, we simply marvel at its beauty. Thea had planned for the perfect retirement dream home. This was not meant to be, though, and we learn from Thea's Journal, as well as her conversations with near neighbours and close friends how this dream evaporated. Circumstances and lessons learnt lead to the dramatic climax. It is Thea's story and the strength of the book is in her narration. Well worth reading.

BiP staff review by Sue

The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter

Fourth Estate

Kirsten Tranter's first novel, The Legacy, is a worthy inclusion in the Miles Franklin longlist. As someone who grew up in Sydney and lived in New York for 8 years, she is well able to give a local feel to these twin settings of the story. At its heart there is a compelling mystery - what indeed happened to Ingrid whose unexpected inheritance plunges her into marriage with a New York art dealer. At first her friends back home struggle to cope with her departure but when she disappears on 9/11, they fear for the worst. There is a Brideshead Revisited feel to the early part of the book which is a perfect couterpoint to the mounting tension that follows. Tranter's own experience of New York at this tragic time adds weight and insight to her tale.


BiP staff review by Sue