From one of Australia's finest writers, a novel that exposes the tenacious grip of childhood, the way siblings seem to grow apart but never do, and the price paid for bearing witness to the suffering of others.
You bring your children up to escape sorrow. You spend your best years trying to stop them witnessing it on television, in you, in your neighbours' faces. Then you realise, slowly, that there is no escape, that they must steer their own way through life's cruelties.
In The Children Charlotte Wood, one of Australian fiction's rising stars, delivers a short, sharp shock of a novel that takes you into the heart of a family as normal, and as broken, as any other.
When their father is critically injured, foreign correspondent Mandy and her siblings return home, bringing with them the remnants and patterns of childhood. Mandy has lived away from the country for many years. Her head is filled with images of terror and war, and her homecoming to the quiet country town - not to mention her family and marriage - only heightens her disconnection from ordinary life. Cathy, her younger sister, has stayed in regular contact with her parents, trying also to keep tabs on her brother Stephen who, for reasons nobody understands, has held himself apart from the family for years.
In the intensive care unit the children sit, trapped between their bewildered mother and one another; between old wounds and forgiveness, struggling to connect with their emotions, their past and each other. But as they wait and watch over their father, there's someone else watching too: a young wardsman, Tony, who's been waiting for Mandy to come home. As he insinuates himself into the family, the pressure, and the threat, intensify and build to a climax of devastating force.
This acutely observed novel exposes the tenacious grip of childhood, the way siblings seem to grow apart but never do, and explores the price paid for bearing witness to the suffering of others - whether far away or uncomfortably close to home. The Children marks Wood as one of our finest writers.
The Australian newspaper has described Charlotte Wood as 'one of our most original and provocative writers.' She is the author of five novels and a book of non- fiction. Her latest novel, The Natural Way of Things, won the 2016 Indie Book of the Year and Indie Fiction Book of the Year prizes, has been shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. It will be published in the UK and North America in 2016. Charlotte was also editor of the short story anthology Brothers and Sisters, and for three years edited The Writer's Room Interviews magazine. Her work has been shortlisted for various prizes including the Christina Stead, Kibble and Miles Franklin Awards. Two novels - The Children and The Natural Way of Things - have been optioned for feature films.
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin
Paperback - B format
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