The Furies

Mandy Beaumont

The Furies
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The Furies

Mandy Beaumont

Cynthia was just about to turn sixteen when the unthinkable happened. Her mother was taken away by the police, and her father left without a word three months later. After that night, Cynthia began to walk in slow circles outside the family home looking for traces of her sister Mallory - she’s sure that she must be somewhere else now, wherever that is.


Cynthia knows that she doesn’t belong here. Her mother never belonged here either. This is the place of violence. Despair. The long dry. Blood caked under the nails. Desperate men. Long silences. The place where mothers go mad in locked bedrooms, where women like Cynthia imagine better futures.

As a threatening wind begins to dry-whirl around her, seldom seen black clouds form above, roll over the golden-brown land - is that Mallory she can hear in the growling mass? In the harsh drought-stricken landscape of outback Queensland a woman can be lost in so many ways. The question is, will Cynthia be one of them?

Defiant, ferocious and unyielding - The Furies is a debut novel by Mandy Beaumont that explores the isolation felt by so many women, and how powerful we can be when we join together. It puts her firmly on the literary map, blazing forth from the terrain of Charlotte Wood, Margaret Atwood and Carmen Maria Machado, with a unique and breathtaking power.

Review

In Mandy Beaumont’s debut novel, the vengeance of the mythological Greek Furies is wrought upon an Australian outback town. Cynthia – Cyn – was 16 when her younger sister, Mallory, was killed and her mother taken away by the police. Abandoned by her father soon after, Cyn remains alone in her childhood home, haunted by the echoes of death.

The Furies is a novel steeped in violence. From the drought-ravaged landscape to the blood-soaked floors of the abattoir where Cyn works, Beaumont constantly reinforces the novel’s core theme, which is the violence enacted upon the bodies of women and girls. Cyn learns this violence at the abattoir, takes it into her body, wondering ‘if the men are like this with their women. With their children. If someone will be like that with me one day, this place out here hushing fear and folding the echoes of wrongdoings under the cracking soil.’

Against the violence rises up the chorus of the Furies, wronged and relentless. But will Cyn, like her mother, be overwhelmed by them, or will she find a way to survive? The Furies is driven by an urgent sense of injustice, and while the novel lacks the subtlety of some of its peers, it is nonetheless an ambitious, complex story about freedom and the power of collective rage. Beaumont adds her words, her fury, to the collective cries of women everywhere. Her debut is an ambitious, layered attempt to revive the women whose lives might otherwise be forgotten, and give voice to those who continue to struggle alone.


Bec Kavanagh is a bookseller at Readings Kids.

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