Last Day in the Dynamite Factory

Annah Faulkner

Last Day in the Dynamite Factory
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Last Day in the Dynamite Factory

Annah Faulkner

Silence, Chris discovered, is easy. If nobody asks, you never have to tell.

Christopher Bright is a well-respected conservation architect, good neighbour and friend. He has a devoted wife, two talented children and an old Rover. He plays tennis on Saturdays and enjoys a beer with his business partner after work.

Life is orderly, yet an unresolved question has haunted him for as long as he can remember: Who was his birth father?

Devotion to his adoptive parents has always prevented Chris from enquiring too deeply, but when his mother dies, information emerges that becomes the catalyst for changes he has never imagined.

As light is cast on his father, attention turns to his birth mother, but when he goes in search of the person behind the photo, he encounters a conspiracy of silence. His quest for information, however, reveals not only the truth about his mother’s life but exposes the fault lines in his own, and Chris finds the price of knowledge increasingly heavy. Nevertheless, the truth must be told …

Review

This uniquely titled novel is full of family mysteries, and the unburdening of long-held secrets. The main character, forty-eight year old Christopher Bright, appears to have the sort of life many want. He has been married for close to twenty-five years, has two adult children, and a solid reputation as an architect specialising in restoration. However, when his adoptive mother dies and he reads her journal, he discovers the identity of his birth father and this throws him into a personal crisis.

Diane, Christopher’s wife, isn’t as supportive as he expects, and he begins to question the foundation upon which their marriage is based. He takes leave from his work and his marriage and goes to stay at the beach at Coolum. It is here Faulkner’s writing really shines, as she describes the beauty of this landscape and the power of the sea to both harm and heal. Coolum is an important place in Christopher’s history – it was here he witnessed the death of his adoptive brother, and also nearly drowned himself, over forty years ago. He saw something that day that he has never told anyone.

At Coolum, Christopher reconnects with an old school friend and past girlfriend, Roberta. With Roberta, Chris has always felt free and unconstrained. He heads back to Brisbane with renewed fervour and a determination to uncover more about his past and his birth mother. However, his father is reluctant to give away any clues.

This novel poses important questions about how people (particularly men) define themselves through family history, marriages or relationships and work.

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