Post Script: The Lone Child – Anna George

The Lone Child

 

The Lone Child

Anna George

Penguin Australia

Viking

ISBN: 9780670077748

 

Description:

‘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.’

 

My View:

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?

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Guest Review:The Six – Anni Taylor

The SixThe Six

Anni Taylor

Self published through Amazon

ASIN: B0744BM54M

 

Description:

“A dark, slow-burn serial killer story that dazzles, with an explosive ending.”

In the grip of a crushing gambling habit, young mother Evie is desperate for a way out. She’s stunned when she’s offered a lifeline: A place on a unique, addiction-healing program that includes a six-day stay, six challenges and a chance at sixty thousand dollars.

From all over the world, twenty-eight people travel to a monastery on a remote island in Greece to begin the program. There is just one clause – they must keep it secret.

The monastery holds secrets, too. There are those who peer through the walls and wait: people with the darkest of desires.

Far too late, Evie discovers the chilling truth. And the closer she gets to finding an escape, the closer the horror lurking in the depths of the monastery gets to her.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Evie’s life had spiralled out of control. Her husband Gray and two beautiful daughters, Willow and Lilly meant everything to her – but the gambling addiction had taken over and she had no idea what to do next. She was at the bottom…

When Evie arrived on the tiny Greek island where she had been accepted into a special program which would cure her addiction, she was bemused. The monastery was old; she was met by Brother Vito who explained about the six challenges – the end result (should she reach it) would give her $60,000 ($10,000 per challenge) and she would also have all her debts paid off.

As Evie met the other contestants, she realised there would be no friendships made – everyone wanted to win. But then she saw someone she knew from her “previous life”…

Gray was shattered to realise Evie had left him, and their daughters. He had no idea where she was; none of her friends knew either. Evie’s note which said she would be back in a week gave Gray a small kernel of hope. But as Gray searched for his wife, his journey put him in the path of Constance who was the mother of a young teenager also missing; together the two of them joined forces in their search for loved ones they had become increasingly concerned about. Would Evie and Kara be found – alive? Or were the police right?

Wow! Deep, incredibly dark and disturbing, The Six by Aussie author Anni Taylor (author of The Game You Played) is another intense psychological thriller that pounded through the pages. The main characters are resilient, tough but scarily vulnerable; the bad guys are horribly bad!! A fast-paced and thrilling plot, The Six is a breathtaking and intense ride, and is filled with twists and turns which kept my heart in my mouth! A highly recommended 5 stars.

With thanks to the author for my digital copy which I beta read, for my honest review.

Post Script: The Late Show – Michael Connelly

The Late Show

The Late Show

Michael Connelly

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760630782

 

Description:

A pulse-pounding thriller, introducing a driven, young detective trying to prove herself in the LAPD.

 

Los Angeles can be a dangerous city – never more so than in the dead of night.

 

Renee Ballard works the night shift at the LAPD in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

 

But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night.

 

As the cases entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job – no matter what the department throws at her.

 

 

My View:

Michael Connelly can do no wrong! This is a brilliant introduction to a new protagonist Renee Ballard and I look forward to reading many more in this series.  I don’t know how Michael Connelly does this – producing consistently great writing, producing wonderfully detailed police procedurals that reveal themselves like a film in your mind’s eye.

 

Renee Ballard’s narrative – of harassment, bullying and battling the “boys club” is credible and one experienced by many many women in all walks of life. However Ballard will not be defeated – she remains strong, forthright and dedicated to her work. It is no surprise that Ballard is heading for a show down with a particular suspect – that is a given, but when it happens – BOOM! I was totally taken by surprise. Perfect tactics Michael Connelly.  Loved this read.

 

Post Script: Wimmera – Mark Brandi

Powerful, evocative, once you read you cannot unread.

 

Wimmera

Wimmera

Mark Brandi

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733638459

 

Description:

In the long, hot summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends.

 

Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab’s dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben’s next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

 

Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man’s shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab’s dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

 

Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can’t ignore the past any more.

 

Wimmera is the 2016 Winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger (UK).

 

 

My View:

Powerful, evocative, once you read you cannot unread.

 

I guess you can say I am intuitive, I can read people (mostly) or maybe read moods is a better explanation – a survivor’s skill, an empathetic skill. I notice things, things that can make me feel uncomfortable, little things, an attitude, a facial expression, often  something intangible, a prickling of the skin… a niggling feeling that something isn’t right, a warning, a take care or get out of here kind of thing. Reading this book I was on high alert, all my intuitive cells were screaming – NO!!! Get out.

 

My intuition was not wrong.

 

The prologue sets the scene for a very intense read. A discarded wheelie bin, lid screwed down tight. The imagination starts to process many scenarios…none of them good.

 

The tension continues to build, by page seventy I was pretty sure what was going on or about to. I put the book down and had a little break. A few days later I picked up the book and continued. With subtle hints, oh so subtle, this authors says so much – this is such powerful writing!

 

Powerful, dark, intense, painfully exquisite writing. Less is more.  Once you read you cannot unread. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Student – Iain Ryan

It must be the great writing!  

The Student

The Student

Iain Ryan

Bonnier Publishing Australia

Echo

ISBN: 9781760406370

 

Description:

Do bad people look like good people, like friends and brothers and boyfriends and students, until they have their hands around your throat?

 

Gatton, Queensland. 1994. Nate is a student, dealing weed on the side. A girl called Maya Kibby is dead. No one knows who killed her. Nate needs to refresh his supply, but Jesse, his friend and dealer, is missing. Nate is high. He is alone. Being hunted for the suitcase he’s found and haunted by its contents. And as things turn from bad to worse, Nate uncovers far more than he bargained for.

 

The Student is high-paced, hardboiled regional noir: fresh, gritty, unnerving, with a stark and lonely beauty.

 

‘A terrific neo-noir from an exciting new voice in Australian crime fiction’ – Adrian McKinty

 

‘The Student takes the campus novel and mines within it a dark seam of violence, deception and suspense in prose that burns with a fierce propulsion’ – David Whish-Wilson

 

 

Description:

It must be the great writing!  

 

My expectations of this book were not met. I did not like any of the characters – not one. I did not like the settings or the behaviours;   so much impulsive, self-gratifying, drug fuelled behaviour – and when I say drug fuelled, read that as over the top liberal drug use (and I do hope this is not a realistic portraying of University life in the 1990’s) and did I say drug use and then there was the sex scenes and the violence – sometimes simultaneously … this is a very dark, gritty narrative and not for me, and I usually love dark and gritty. Yet contrarily there was something about this writing that kept me turning pages!

 

Am I in the wrong demographic for reading this – maybe, probably? Yet I still turned the pages – it was a compulsive and compelling read. Hats off to the author for such engaging writing. This is irresistible dark prose.

 

 

 

The Student