13 August, 2013

Book Review: The Riders

From Goodreads: Fred Scully has decided to leave Australia to carve a new life for himself and his young family in Ireland. He labours alone to make their dilapidated cottage habitable, but when he arrives at the airport to pick up his wife and child, only his small daughter steps off the plane. So begins Scully's desperate odyssey across Europe, searching for the one person he thought he'd never lose.

Thoughts: Tim Winton writes to be read aloud. I listened to this as an audio book and I frequently found myself sitting in the car in the carpark, not willing to get out, mesmerized by the prose.
 I know I read The Riders many years ago. I remember being confused by it, struggling to follow the story. However, with a bit of time (and I dare say maturity!) it's completely different.
Winton evokes so many emotions - humour, joy, fear, anger, sadness - often within sentences of each other. I started off feeling sorry for Scully, angry at his wife, concerned for their daughter Billie. As the novel progresses and Scully's search for Jennifer becomes more frantic, more out of control I became angry with him. His concern for Billie becomes patchy, unfocused and she is forced, at the age of 7, to take control. Although I see the reason behind this (the book is about obsession after all) as a parent it just made me want to shout at him. Who the hell drags their 7 year old across Europe looking for a woman who doesn't want to be found? But then again, who abandons her husband and 7 year old without a word of explanation?
In true Winton fashion the "problem" is not resolved. However, the journey is complete. The decent into sanity testing obsession and the scramble out of it again is richly described. It's truly a book where the destination doesn't matter, but the journey does - and maybe that's what I missed when I was younger.
If I do have a complaint about this particular version (the audio book), it was that the narrator was terrible at female voices! Luckily there weren't too many and in the end the story carried the day!

 Challenges: Aussie Authors