Author(s): Charlotte Wood
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.
Charlotte Wood has been described as 'one of the most intelligent and compassionate novelists in Australia' (The Age), and 'one of our finest and most chameleonic writers' (The Australian). Her latest work, Love & Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food, is a book of contemplations on cooking. Her fourth novel, Animal People, was released in late 2011 to critical acclaim and was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Her earlier novels, the bestseller The Children, The Submerged Cathedral and Pieces of a Girl were shortlisted for various prize including the Miles Franklin Award and regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize.