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Book DetailsISBN: 9781760528744
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Book Review: Islands by Peggy Frew - Reviewed by CloggieA (06 Feb 2019)
Islands is the third novel by award-winning Australian author, Peggy Frew. At fifteen, Anna Worth is a rather troubled teen whose rebellious behaviour irritates and exasperates those around her. But when she leaves her mother’s home in December 1994, and does not return, the effect on her family is more far-reaching than any of them could have predicted.
Her father John, already traumatised by the break-up of his marriage, initially fixates on the search for his daughter. Anna haunts her sister June’s colourful and oftimes confronting paintings. And her mother Helen finds herself virtually estranged from her remaining daughter. Her grandmother, the island community and many who knew her are affected to a greater or lesser extent.
Multiple narrators relate the events surrounding Anna’s disappearance, and the aftermath. Frew uses a number of different formats apart from the conventional narrative: brochure-like descriptions of June’s deeply-personal artworks; diary entries from Lindsay’s short stay at Monica and Greg’s island cottage; transcripts of John’s replies to a psychologist’s questions; summaries of selected Christmas Days that detail gifts, food, dialogue and descriptions of bedrooms; the fragmented stream-of-consciousness of an observant dune-dweller; the last thoughts of a woman dying of a stroke; and what are perhaps Anna’s thoughts at a place she often visited to escape and be alone.
The story does tend to flit about from present to past, giving it a rather disjointed feel at times, but those forays into the past serve to explain the mindset of key characters and perhaps examine the source of their very human flaws. There are not a lot of likeable characters here. Frew gives the reader beautiful descriptive prose and she easily conveys her setting and the era. Rather than being tied up neatly in a bow, the ending realistically demonstrates what is often the outcome in the case of a missing loved one. A thought-provoking read.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.
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