The Lone Child
‘Midway through the call, she could hear her baby crying. She swore. It was 8.30. But the operator’s banal questions kept coming, undercutting the situation’s urgency. All Neve wanted to say was: Help! That woman was erratic and enraged, with children in her car.’
Emotionally compelling and poignant, The Lone Child is a haunting follow-up novel from Anna George, author of the critically acclaimed debut What Came Before.
Over the space of one Easter weekend on the idyllic Mornington Peninsula, a moral dilemma forces a well-to-do new mum to confront her preconceived ideas of how the other half lives and experiences motherhood.
Abandoned by her partner while she was eight months pregnant, Neve Ayres has sought refuge with her newborn baby in her clifftop home in scenic Flinders. Already struggling to cope with the sleepless haze of motherhood, Neve finds her world turned upside yet again when an unwelcome visitor appears in the night, leaving much more than just a hole in her beautifully crafted stone wall.
Sal Marioni is struggling to cope with the recent death of his mother when he receives the unexpected and urgent phone call. A woman from his past – the enigmatic Neve Ayres – needs his help. Intrigued despite himself, Sal soon finds himself swept up in the mystery surrounding the lonely and exhausted new mother.
Leah Chalmers is another struggling single mother. With two young children, no money and nowhere to go, she is desperate to pull together the threads of her life so that her family can be safe and sheltered over the Easter long weekend. However when disaster strikes, who can she turn to? A mixture of shame and fear grips her as she battles to seek help for her young family.
Just as What Came Before compassionately explored issues of domestic violence and abuse, The Lone Child similarly hits a collective nerve with a probing examination of child welfare and motherhood, with all their moral and ethical ambiguities. Exploring pain, judgement, love and loss, The Lone Child is a chillingly honest depiction of the bewildering and often isolating exhaustion of motherhood, and the fraught bonds between mother and child.
‘Some things, she’d realised, couldn’t be fully understood until lived. Like falling in love, and orgasm. Childbirth and motherhood.’
WOW!!! Such exquisite writing packed with feelings.
Motherhood – what a complicated, exhausting, rewarding, frustrating, emotional roller-coaster of a journey it is and Anna George captures the nuances of this very individual yet collective experience so well.
The narrative takes place in an isolated wintry landscape – a holiday maker’s idyll in the summer, almost a different territory in the wet and sombre wintry days – weather to match the bleak mood of the protagonist – Neve Ayres – so bleak the narrative has a somewhat gothic feel. The landscape plays such an important role in this narrative – defining mood, creating atmosphere and drama, all captivatingly written.
Motherhood is depicted in an honest, brave and scarily accurate manner, it seems George has managed to pick your mind and reveal a mother’s inner most fears and muddle of feelings. These are explored in dual settings – motherhood is explored where material wealth is no barrier to a potential favourable lifestyle juxtaposed against the experience of motherhood lived in poverty and homelessness– such different lives but the underlying emotions and connection between mother and child, bridge the social gap. Isolation doesn’t care about social position.
Add to this rich blanket of emotions the spectre of death and a discussion surrounding mourning and a spooky undercurrent haunts the pages and culminates in an ending that is surreal and powerful. So many emotions on these pages, such an incredible read!
I have one question – what next can we expect from the writer Anna George? Two wonderful thought provoking books covering such different themes…what next?