Review | Monday 23 April 2012
Grace is wife to down-trodden Ian Fisher, who suffers from depression. She is mother to their daughters Edith (Edie) and Juliet who were born in quick succession but, having decided they weren’t going to have any more, a few years later Ted was born. After several years, Grace decides she can’t put up with Ian anymore and takes their children from Melbourne to live in a small Victorian coastal village called Yarrabeen.
For the kids, life in Yarrabeen is never right without their father who is later said to have electrocuted himself by mistake. Four months later Grace learns the truth about what really happened after receiving his old toolbox that is sent to her by train to Yarrabeen station.
Edie has a particularly hard time growing up, feeling on the outer from her family and peers. The sisters’ rivalry has been in existence from a very young age, and culminates in Juliet seducing Edie’s womanising husband, Southey, and giving birth to their love child Lorrie. Happy-go-lucky Ted, the youngest of the three, blissfully cruises along in life until his wife leaves him and his two daughters to fend for themselves.
When Grace is diagnosed with terminal cancer, the siblings are forced to put aside their prejudices and eventually learn to understand and respect each other and the roles they play within their family unit. While ultimately sounding like tales of woe, it is Forster’s ability to recount the characters’ experiences with integrity and humour in her distinctive voice that makes this book such a fascinating insight into many people’s family lives.
Emily Harms is marketing manager of Readings