Tuesday, 14 February 2017

THE SILENT KOOKABURRA by Liza Perrat @LizaPerrat #RBRT

5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE




How I discovered this book: It was a submission to Rosie Amber's Review Team, of which I am a member.  

Every so often I find a real gem in the review team submission list, and this was one of them.  I thoroughly enjoyed it; Liza Perrat is an excellent writer.

The story takes place in the early 1970s in a quiet town in New South Wales called Wollongong, and is narrated by eleven year old Tanya, who lives with her alcoholic but not unlikable father, Dobson, her disturbed mother, Eleanor, who has miscarried many children, and her grandmother, Nanna Purvis.  It's sad, tragic and funny, all at the same time.  Behind the story of every day life lurks the shadow of child abuse, madness and murder, but these are dealt with so cleverly that the book doesn't seem particularly dark.  If you can imagine that.

Eleanor finally manages to carry a child to term and Tanya is sure their family life will improve, but events take several turns for the worse, and she has to deal with great uncertainty about her future.  I wouldn't have thought I'd like a whole novel written from the point of view of such a young girl, but one reads so much between the lines as Tanya reveals more to the reader than she understands herself.  Danger and intrigue is added by the appearance of the mysterious, seedy Uncle Blackie, the various nosy neighbours, the girls who tease Tanya for being fat, and her Italian friend Angela's are-they-drug-dealers-or-aren't-they family. 

On the verge of adolescence, Tanya veers between excitement about becoming a woman, and comfort eating her way through her disintegrating family life.  One question remains in her mind, and is still there at the end of the book, an epilogue that takes place forty years later.

The characterisation in this book is brilliant.  Nanna Purvis is hilarious, a real old Aussie matriarch, and the atmosphere of the family's slightly backward way of life of 45 years ago is so well portrayed.  I notice from the Author's Note that Liza Perrat lived in Wollongong, and there are many popular culture references to the time, including items of food that Ms Perrat must have eaten back then, but, unlike other books in which this occurs, I didn't find it contrived, or as if it was a deliberate strategy to press nostalgia buttons.  It worked (I particularly liked Nanny Purvis and her Iced VoVos).

It's really, really good.  You won't be disappointed.

  

7 comments:

  1. Terrific review, sounds like a really great book.

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    1. I hope other members have taken it, too!

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  2. I have a copy of this so am really pleased you liked it, Terry.

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    1. Ah, good! Yes, I don't give 5* all that often, but this was really worth it. :)

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  3. Now this sounds up my alley. Am going to buy and read it!!

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  4. Oh boo, no p'back. I think I would have liked to read it on paper...

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    1. I hope you do - it's so good, I know you'd love it :)

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