When Olivia returns to the grand chateau in France she once called home, with her two children in tow, their arrival is unexpected. They have journeyed from Australia, escaping unspoken horrors, but home is not what it was … ‘ A powerful and disquieting novella, a work of fiction so infused with the practices of film that, while each scene is fully and even vividly realised in words, it also translates quite naturally into film, into a visually rich action taking place before the inner eye.’ J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace ‘Disquiet is the work of an artist who looks for truth in fear and trembling … It testifies to the power and seriousness of one of the most talented Australian writers to appear in ages.’ Peter Craven, The Australian ‘ Leigh creates images which are new and memorable. She has a wonderful eye for details … Julia Leigh has written an extraordinary book.’ Miranda France, Literary Review ‘Hypnotic … It’s difficult to imagine a reader who will not be electrified by this haunting, masterfully told story. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine a reader who will not be changed by it.’ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
by Annie Condon, freelance reviewer
Disquiet is the much awaited second novel from Australian Julia Leigh, whose first book The Hunter was critically acclaimed both here and overseas. While the length of this work may be a disappointment to Leigh’s admirers (it is a novella), her writing is as poetic and tightly controlled as ever. The action in Disquiet occurs over the period of a fortnight; the protagonist Olivia (who is referred to as ‘the woman’ for the most part of the book) returns to her homeland and sprawling family chateau. Olivia has come from Australia with her two children, and the reader is the one who must glean exactly what she is escaping. The family home, described as ‘austere’ is, predictably, not a welcoming place. While the children try to comprehend what is happening around them, a horrible drama unfolds when Olivia’s brother and his wife bring their newborn daughter home from hospital. Leigh’s writing is highly descriptive, and without any hint of judgement she builds enormous tension. Perhaps best described as a ‘modern gothic drama’, this is a book filled with unease – the title is an understatement.
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