Cass Moriarty, known for her wonderful novels The Promise Seed and Parting Words has whipped up some new reviews. See Cass's thoughts below, and be sure to check back as we will be highlighting monthly instalments of her reviews!
The War Artist (UQP 2019) by Simon Cleary is a compelling story of the trauma of war, the peace of atonement, the relief of forgiveness, the cost of sacrifice, the ties of loyalty and the healing power of art. When a traumatised soldier returns from Afghanistan, his career and marriage threatened, his life becomes unbearable, but through an extraordinary process of reconciliation and commemoration, he is able to survive. This is a powerful novel about relationships, physical and emotional trauma, and the patience and potency of love.
In A Lifetime of Impossible Days (Penguin Random House 2019), the debut novel by
Tabitha Bird, we meet Willa Waters when she is a gumboot-wearing, vulnerable but adventurous eight-year-old, when she is a 33-year-old troubled mother of two, and when she is a feisty 93-year-old, still wearing gumboots but struggling to remember what is important. When childhood Willa receives a mysterious gift, she plants an ocean in her backyard that allows her to slip seamlessly between her past and future selves in this glorious blend of literary fiction and magical realism. But will future Willa be able to save past Willa? Is elderly Willa remembering something magnificent or losing her grip on reality? Through the back and forth of memory and the magic of imagination, will all the Willas be able to work together to save Willa herself when it really matters?
Exploded View (Text 2019) by Carrie Tiffany is a slim novel written in simple, spare and beautiful prose about a young girl who reacts to her stepfather’s abuse with silence and by secret acts of sabotage against the cars he repairs. There is a claustrophobic road trip, a well-worn Holden repair manual, a child both bold but at risk, all documented in poetic and childlike prose that captures the very heart of what it means to be alone and vulnerable, to be young and powerless, to yearn for something more from a family, even if you lack awareness of what shape that something more might take.