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Description - The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

The debut of a remarkable Australian talent, The Night Guest is a mesmerising novel about trust, love, dependence, and the fear that the things you know best can become the things you're least certain about. One morning Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she's blown in from the sea, but in fact she's come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem. Which of them can Ruth trust? And, as memories of her childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, can she even trust herself? The Night Guest introduces a writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to tap the mysterious workings of our minds, and keeping us spellbound.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781926428550
ISBN-10: 1926428552
Format: Paperback / softback
(229mm x 154mm x 25mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publish Date: 21-Aug-2013
Country of Publication: Australia

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The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

'...an accomplished and polished debut. There's a delicacy and poignancy to the writing, combined with almost unbearable suspense. ' - Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life Read more at http://pen.gy/NightGuest


Book Reviews - The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

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Book Review: Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane - Reviewed by (15 Mar 2014)

The Night Guest is the first novel by Australian author, Fiona McFarlane. In a novel filled with gorgeous, evocative prose, McFarlane builds a tale encompassing the following elements: an old widow living alone (Ruth Field); a deceased husband (Harry); two sons remotely located (Jeffrey and Phillip); a formidable care worker who insinuates herself into the widow’s life (Frida Young); the elderly man who was once the object of the widow’s teenage infatuation (Richard Porter); a taxi driver (Frida’s brother, George); a good Samaritan (Ellen Gibson); a substantial sum of money; two cats; a beachfront cottage; and a (possibly imaginary) tiger. McFarlane’s characters are familiar and believable, although occasionally, larger than life, and their dialogue is realistic. Her descriptions are redolent with rich imagery: “Frida sat on the unfamiliar chair and looked at Ruth, impassive. Her obstinacy had a mineral quality. Ruth felt she could chip away at it with a sharp tool and reveal nothing more than the uniformity of its composition” and “Ruth’s back objected to all this. She often imagined her back as an instrument; that way she could decide if the pain was playing in the upper or lower registers. Sometimes it was just a long, low note, and sometimes it was insistent and shrill. Lying in the sand, it was both. It was a whole brassy, windy ensemble” and “The day was that wet, pressed sort on which no one would make the effort to come to this part of the beach. In weather like this, the beach was revealed as both dangerous and dirty. The sea was oppressive, and the sky was bright and colourless and dragged down upon its surface” are just a few examples. McFarlane deftly creates the environment in which the events of her plot seem entirely plausible, and the reader will be filled with an escalating sense of foreboding as the novel progresses. McFarlane’s novel explores many topics: vulnerability, imagination, confusion and forgetfulness (“Where had all this been waiting while she worked so effortlessly to forget it? She sat trembling with gratitude for her brain, that sticky organ.”), as well as loss of independence, help, caring, communication, love and trust. This is quite an amazing debut novel.


Author Biography - Fiona McFarlane

Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, and has degrees in English from Sydney University and Cambridge University, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, the Best Australian Stories and the New Yorker, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the Australia Council for the Arts. The Night Guest, her debut novel, has sold into fifteen territories around the world. She lives in Sydney.

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