30 October, 2011

The Children

Title: The Children
Author: Charlotte Wood
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Library

From Goodreads: 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


What I thought: I borrowed this from the library after hearing the author on the radio talking about her new book which is a sequel to this. Although it sounded like you can read the Animal People without having read The Children, my anal retentiveness over matters such as these would not allow me to do so! Having fallen behind in my reviewing recently, I actually can't remember too much about this book apart from the fact that I really liked it and want to read more of Wood's writing. Each of the characters touched a chord with me and I felt for them as they attempt to deal with each of their personal demons. The struggles as Margaret deals with not only losing her husband, but trying to keep her children close to her and each other, Mandy dealing with the images she has seen as a foreign correspondent and the frivolity she now sees in most peoples lives, Cathy trying to keep the peace across the board and Stephen who really doesn't want to be there. The climax when it comes is sudden, startling and perplexing. It jolts the reader out of the lives of the characters and forces them down another path. In the end, has anything really changed?

Recommended for: those who like good quality Australian fiction.

Challenges:  100+ Challenge,

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