The World According to Renee

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Review: The Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

There’s something not quite right about how Cameron Bright died.

Thus begins Jane Harper’s latest mystery, set in outback Queensland. It is a tale of a family and the legend of a dead stockman who has haunted the area for years.

For fans of The Dry, you’ll recognise Jane Harper’s MO: a suicide hiding a crime. It’s what fans love from favourite authors: they want the same book, but different.

Having said that, there are layers of this story which need to be unwoven and dissected. Yes, there’s a dead brother and some shady circumstances. There are familial dynamics which lend themselves to a satisfying conclusion. But there’s a real layer that, I feel, is ignored: the role of women.

There are several women in this narrative: matriarch Liz, widow Ilse, two daughters, an ex-wife, an ex-lover and a backpacker. All of these women have something in common (besides the dead Cameron Bright, that is). They are victims. I don’t want to give too much away as it will ruin the unravelling of the narrative… However, I feel like these women are forgotten in the true sentiment of the novel. Yes, they are the driving forces of the conclusion, and yes, they are all strong women who have made difficult choices in their lives. There’s a reason the novel chooses to see things through the eyes of Nathan, Cam’s brother. To have the story unfold through say, Liz or Ilse’s eyes would ruin the unfolding. But that’s another point entirely.

These women have been silenced. They haven’t been allowed to tell their story. They’ve been overpowered by patriarchy. Yes, that bothers me. Yes, it’s necessary to the plot. It still bothers me when women are silenced. There, I said it. It’s the feminist in me, I suppose.

So, what did I actually think? I liked it. It’s a great novel if you loved The Dry. It’s a decent read for a lazy afternoon or a book club. If you want something different from Jane Harper, this is not for you.

7 out of 10 bookmarks.

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January 28, 2019 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: The Dry

WARNING: This novel deals with the death of children, and other themes/scenes which may trigger mental health issues in some readers.

Aaron Falk attends the funeral of his childhood friend and his family in the town they all grew up in. The deaths seem to be an open-and-shut case, but in this small, drought-ridden town, there are always unanswered questions.

Jane Harper is an Australian journalist who has turned her hand to writing fiction. This novel has quickly become a bookclub favourite, and has even been hand-picked by Reese Witherspoon to be made into a film. So when it came up cheaply on Kindle, I decided to give it a read.

The novel is well-written, with a flowing narrative that never meanders along mindlessly. Chapters are short and sharp, doing what good writing always does and leaving the reader wanting more. As for the narrative, it’s a good yarn, worthy of the praise that has been heaped upon this novel. As expected, the little town is full of secrets which are revealed in a manner which is easy to understand yet never leaves the reader feeling like they’ve missed something.

Despite the length, this is an easy read, perfect for those rainy afternoons when you just want to snuggle under a blanket and read. Also good when you’re short on time and can only read a chapter at a time. You’re not going to lose your place; I found some parts to be repetitive, so if you do skim over something, it will come up again later. The characters are well written and quite memorable. It’s the sort of novel that gets your brain thinking, analysing possibilities and wondering how it all fits in.

Without giving away the details, the ending is quite satisfying. The reader can see how the pieces fit together and the clues that led Falk and Raco to their conclusion. I did find it to be a little rushed, which gives way to coincidences. But this is easily overlooked as the conclusion neatly puts everything together.

I’ve read that Jane Harper is busily writing another novel featuring Aaron Falk, and that the book won’t be a direct sequel but can standalone. That works for me; The story of this small town is neatly contained within the pages of this novel and doesn’t need to be expanded in a sequel.

8 out of 10 bookmarks. Recommended especially for lovers of Australian fiction.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment