Category Archives: Fiction

Jagged Edge of Joy by Liz Newton

For the Wishart family the summer holidays once more stretch languidly over the sun drenched beachside camping spot north of Sydney where parents Joe and Evie have brought the family year after year. It’s the summer of 1961 and baby Nellie for the first time joins in the holiday along with her brothers Pete and Dave, who are three and five years old respectively, and big sister Beth who is ten.

These hazy, lazy days of summer bring a welcome break in routine for Joe from his burden of factory responsibilities as both owner and manager, while Evie loves the chance to catch up with extended family and familiar faces as all enjoy the delights of their seaside sanctuary. Sun, sand, shells and the sea provide the raw ingredients for the whole clan to create their own versions of a perfect holiday but 1961 brings a shadow which will shatter the Wishart family.

Every parent’s worst nightmare is the loss of their child, but for the Wisharts there is no certainty, no coffin, no closure. Suspicion is cast in all directions and narrows to focus squarely on those who know the family. Joe and Evie return home and try to maintain some semblance of a normal family routine but without resolution their grief is ever present, sometimes masked or momentarily stifled but never far from the surface. Eventually the Wisharts find the answers they have so long sought after that fateful summer holiday turned their lives into a nightmare from which there was no escape, but will this knowledge bring relief or further devastation?

Liz Newton has delved deep into the family dynamics associated with the loss of a child and follows the aftermath of this tragedy for each of the Wishart family members as well as its echoed impact on the Blackstone family. Newton’s characters are complex and layered, finely drawn and achingly real. They continue to develop as lives are turned upside down and truth becomes abstract, delayed to be dealt with another time.

Newton authentically recreates Australia of the 1960s and 1970s  through clever references to popular culture, local and world events and delights the reader through her keen ear for the vernacular in dialogue. Turning the pages of this skilfully crafted and engrossing story inserts the reader into a time capsule where the simpler times of Australia are perhaps to be found, yet darkness and danger may lurk in any era.

Parallels with contemporary historical cases are raised such as the kidnap and murder of Graeme Thorne, the disappearance of the Beaumont children and the Wanda Beach murders which blur the line between fact and fiction in this compelling story. While happiness  is hidden in plain sight it is grief, pain, secrets and lies which fuel Jagged Edge of Joy, stoking the coals of this riveting read – impossible to put down!

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan

April 2017

http://kensingtonreview.net 

https://kensingtonbookreview.wordpress.com

Advertisements

The Extraordinary Adventure of Clancy MacTaggart by Brett Hallam

clancy-mctaggartGoing to work with mum or dad when you are a preteen is usually restricted to those occasions when school is closed or supervision is not available and staying home alone is not an option. But when Clancy’s dad Mac unexpectedly suggests that he join him at work instead of going to school Clancy can hardly believe his luck. Little does he suspect when he climbs into the family car beside his dad that this red desert road in South Australia will take Clancy towards the ride of his life!

Mac wants Clancy to witness history in the making, however the chain of unforeseen events which will ricochet into Woomera are about to unravel Mac’s carefully ordered world on a cosmic scale. Clancy is thrust into the hot seat to valiantly attempt to save the day, and perhaps humanity. But can he save himself? Clancy discovers that he is cool beyond his years, surprisingly calm in the face of danger, and accepts challenges beyond anything he has ever experienced in the school playground.

Readers will happily suspend disbelief to join Clancy on a Boys’ Own adventure that is sure to excite the imagination of any teen/young reading enthusiast. The twists and turns of the fast paced plot take the reader along on a rollicking adventure, sharing the highs and lows of this extraordinary journey with likeable characters and intriguing scenarios.

In the vein of John Marsden and Matthew Riley, Hallam has conjured a captivating tale about an excellent adventure which grips the imagination and catapults the reader into Clancy’s extraordinary adventure.

Reviewed by Christine McGuigan May 2016

Kensington Review

Available from Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com/title/The_Extraordinary_Adventure_of_Clancy_McTaggart