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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Post Script- The Light On The Water – Olga Lorenzo

Evocative, intense, emotional and at times painful to read. This novel pierces the heart; brilliant.

The Light on the Water

The Light On the Water
Olga Lorenzo
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781925266542

Description:
A little girl disappears in the wilderness. Two years later her mother is arrested for her murder. A provocative and unflinching literary novel of love, guilt and grief set against the wilderness of the Australian coast.

Anne Forster, recently divorced and trying to find her feet, takes her daughter Aida on an overnight bushwalk in the moody wilderness of Wilson’s Promontory. Aida, who is six and autistic, disappears; Anne returns from the walk alone. Some of the emergency trackers searching for Aida already doubt Anne’s story.

Nearly two years later and still tormented by remorse and grief, Anne is charged with her daughter’s murder. Witnesses have come forward, offering evidence which points to her guilt. She is stalked by the media and shunned by friends, former colleagues and neighbours.

On bail and awaiting trial, Anne works to reconstruct her last hours with Aida. She remembers the sun high in the sky, the bush noisy with insects, and her own anxiety, seemingly as oppressive as the heat haze.

A superbly written and conceived literary work about the best and the worst aspects of family life, this story asks difficult questions about society, the media, and our rush to judgment. This is a thoughtful, provocative and unflinching novel in the tradition of Helen Garner, Joan London and Charlotte Wood, from a respected writer and renowned teacher of writing.

 
My View:
Evocative, intense, emotional and at times painful to read. This novel pierces the heart; brilliant.

At first I could hardly bear to continue reading, the pain that Anne feels and the pressure she faces is almost too much to bear. These are powerful pages, tension is high, my empathy freely given. Anne’s story is just so so sad. We can feel her love for her children and the pressure that mothers face when in the public eye, always judged – judged by appearance, behaviour, attitudes, judged by the behaviours of our children, deemed responsible for the behaviours of our children. So much pressure. The media then adds its own high dose of judgment. Too often we forget to ask – what is the point of this article, whose opinion is this and what are they trying to achieve; once words have been printed, read or spoken, they cannot be taken back.

Family and relationships are reflected upon. Motherhood is exposed – the good and the bad. This narrative is not afraid to ask the difficult questions about relationships; to probe and prick our collective and individual consciousness. Family violence is aired, almost normalised – are you upset by this – I hope so, I think that is the authors intent and to show that cycles don’t have to be repeated.

Power/powerlessness is also a theme of this narrative. Institutionalized power, in our courts, policing, schools, legal system, prisons, detention centres; the power imbalance and the dehumanising ways we treat people involved in such systems is shocking as are the judgements we are passively making within these systems. It seems like everyone is considered guilty, of… something, anything, before an individual has even had a fair hearing. Social media and online bullying reflects this attitude; so much anger, so much entitlement to anger is a worrying thing. We are all too quick to judge, to make assumptions, what ever happened to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty? Trial by media, all forms of media, is bought into question here.

This narrative explores so much of the ugly side of society but is not without some redemptive features/characters. Sandra gives us all hope. Sandra is open, loving and accepting. We need more Sandra’s. We need more friends like Linda to support us.

A wonderful exploration of grief, blame, judgements, the meaning of motherhood, of family, identity, marriage, responsibility, relationships, power and survival and love. Such power in the written words – your heart will be pierced by their thorns.