Friday 23 March 2012

Whileaway Book Club - Past The Shallows by Favel Barrett

This is an extraordinary literary debut from Victoria’s Favel Parrett’s, a beautifully crafted enigmatic piece by an emerging young Australian writer, set on the rugged, wild south coast of Tasmania.

The story is told through the eyes of Miles and Harry, brothers who share an unbreakable bond. For Miles, the surf is the only thing that brings him that sense of self that is so drastically missing from his life. Harry, too young to surf, finds solace in the tiny and timeless objects he finds in the sand hills of the beach.

Their father’s cold, dilapidated house holds little warmth physically or mentally for brothers Miles and Harry, who were largely left to fend for themselves since the death of their mother and the departure of older brother Jo. Naïve, vulnerable Harry is so beautifully depicted, as is Miles, his protector, the role shirked by their drunken, belligerent father. When both boys are forced to work on their father’s abalone fishing boat disaster looms.


The novel will have you gripping the pages as deep family secrets are revealed, strange characters are introduced and the hardship of the boys’ lives unfolds. Parrett has created a novel with foreboding urgency and the simple language seems graceful and effortless, yet manages to visibly invoke the dark mood of the Tasmanian Coast which matches the story line and its characters.

The story surges towards its gripping conclusion and all along, Parrett’s obvious affinity with surfing and the ocean will thrill anyone who shares a love of the ocean. Readers will empathise with the characters as they search for something to hold on to, something that is real as Parrett has so beautifully encapsulated the bleak coastal town and this broken little family with her sparse prose.


If you like Winton and Craig Silvey this will appeal. 

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