Buy The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
Book DetailsISBN: 9781926428550
'...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
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Book Review: Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane - Reviewed by CloggieA (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.
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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