This is an extremely well written, keenly observed book about a contentious and harrowing subject. Fortunate that it is well written for in the hands of a less competent author it would possibly be unreadable. I do not want to offer any spoilers but do prepare yourself for an uneasy read. I do feel concerned that the writing of this book is an act of catharsis for the writer for it seems too dark a subject to choose to write about unless you have some deep and first hand experience of it that you need to deal with. For the intention is surely to heighten awareness of the long lasting damage done by such despicable acts. It also demonstrates keenly how difficult it is such to speak of such things for the suffering victim and how that in turn impacts upon others. Specifically here effective parenting has been compromised, possibly, irrevocably.
Told through the eyes of mother, Josephine, and daughter, Clare, the juxtaposition of adult and child perception was skilfully handed. The writer clearly understands children and their ability to perceive which is often under estimated. In fact the child seemed to understand more than the adults! Troubling for the reader, though, is the fact that although you know how damaged Josephine is and how that influences her moods and behaviours it is hard to really empathise with her. She is such a prisoner within herself and her treatment of the children so unreasonable at times. All our emotion goes to Clare and her brother. Maybe that is another intention of the writer. Or maybe I’m playing amateur psychologist too much . Perhaps it illustrates that even if you have a devoted partner, wonderful children the extent of the damage done to you as a child throws all of that into jeopardy.
It’s not the first fiction to deal with the subject, it won’t be the last. It is a book to make you think but don’t expect to feel uplifted. I couldn’t say I enjoyed this book unless I divorce myself from the subject matter and merely examine the structure, narrative, characterisations et cetera . However I have no regrets about having read it. I thank Readers First/Allen & Unwin for the opportunity.