Writing: 4/5 Characters: 5/5 Plot: 5/5
A dual timeline story in the Adelaide Hills (Australian Outback). In 1959 an inexplicable tragedy occurs with a nasty, but generally accepted explanation which is never actually proved. In 2018 Jessica Turner-Bridges races back to Sydney when the grandmother who raised her suddenly takes ill. A free lance journalist, Jessica gets obsessed with the 1959 story which she has stumbled on and which — it turns out — is closely related to her family.
Vivid writing bringing to life the surroundings and individual, interconnected stories. Good pacing continually introduces new stories and sources that shift your understanding at the same pace as it does for Jessica. I kept thinking I knew what had happened but was continually surprised. There was a little more scenic description than I like (I’m not a visual person) but I was able to skim those sections if they got too long. Plenty of drama (but not melodrama — the events were dramatic but the characters got on with doing their best and didn’t descend into wailing and teeth gnashing). It was difficult at time knowing in advance what happened (and that is is awful) and watching the narrative slowly unfold to explain the details. On the other hand, in a weird way it is less stressful knowing the end as there is no way to avoid it.
Some beautiful commentary on books and reading and a nice array of literary and cinematic references. Some genuine and insightful reflection on loneliness, community, motherhood, purpose, identity, and the impact of events on a wider assemblage of persons than might be suggested by the event itself.
Thank you to Mariner Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on April 4th, 2023.