With only two weeks of school holidays, I couldn't take the train because it would have taken ten days there and back, whereas the bus with a team of two drivers gets there in 48 hours, and we flew back in four. The story is told by Cassie over this wonderful train trip where she thinks back on her life, hoping to grasp memories and how her life unfolded the way it has and to answer questions she never got to know the answers to. On the train she is in the plush Platinum section of the train and wishes to remain alone, except for Gary, whose job it is to make Cassie comfortable on the trip and a gorgeous man who eats with her, only once on the train then again at a hotel in Kalgoorlie. The same trip but in the opposite direction forty-five years ago. This is a novel by an author who clearly both understands and loves magic realism. Tells the story of the town through individual characters and points in time so that the overarching timeline is present but not overwhelming.
This book is so different from the writer's first, Siddon Rock, but is connected to it by the name of the protagonist - Cassandra Aberline. For the reader, burdened with insight that Cassie does not always quite share, there is also a sense of time running out, which tempers the rush to turn the pages to find out what those betrayals were. The landscape is integral to the story as if it were a character too, for the Australian landscape is imbued with ancient mystery and supernatural powers. Forty-five years earlier, Cassandra had left Home Ground Farm, collected a package from their neighbour at Omorfi Thea, then caught the Indian Pacific to Sydney, promising never to return. A Week in the Life of Cassandra Aberline is the internal journey of one woman looking for answers to something she did, when she was aged around twenty, that has defined her life. I had the great luck to be shown some sample chapters of this book while it was being shown around to publishers and I have kept up to date with its progress through what can sometimes seem the industrial process of modern publishing.
I found it impossible to convey to someone on that small island just how vast that desert is. Indeed, men come off pretty poorly for the most part, including the befuddled Minister, the barman Kelpie Crush who hides a dark secret, the hapless Young George Aberline, and Fatman Aberline, cousin of Macha, who envies her abilities as they grow up. Some books are entertaining, some books are shocking, and some books haunt you long after you have finished reading. And it is a very interesting cast of characters, including an agoraphobic Methodist minister, a cross-dressing dressmaker who is Alistair by day, Allison by night, and the disturbed returned soldier Macha Connor, who grew up wanting to be a boy and, whilst serving as a nurse in the war in Europe, comes across her male namesake Mark Connor and takes his place on the front line after his death. Guest gives the reader a credible plot with just enough mystery to keep the reader intrigued. For Cassie, who is a loner, has been told that even her memories may be taken from her.
This is an understated, but beautifully told story, about the kinds of doubt and worry that we all experience at times. This is Australian fiction at its very best. All the characters have secrets or hidden lives, and meeting them in the pages of this book rouses an intense curiosity. But this need to put things right is less about the people Cassie left behind than it is about making sense of events and actions to determine what was truth. You can see the influence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in this portrayal of a small town in the Australian outback.
On Cassie takes a last-minute cancellation on the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth. I recommend this book to you. The second half of the book focuses on the arrival of Catalin and her son Jos, émigrés from Eastern Europe, looking for a home and an escape from their own war-torn past. Cassandra has a longstanding love of Shakespeare and there are echoes of Shakespeare in the ultimate unwinding of the plot: there are twins, tragedy, betrayal, and serendipitous encounters. Nell, the maligned local aboriginal woman vies with Granna, caretaker of the Aberline family, for wisdom and mystery, and there is Sibyl the daughter of the local butcher who was abused by her father until he left and now runs the shop herself, always ambushed on Sundays by painful memories of her childhood. In cui arrivano solo gli stranieri che cercano qualcosa che nemmeno loro sanno che aspetto abbia, in cui la notte se si tengono gli occhi aperti succedono cose che possono spiegare il senso di tutto e di nulla? He pushes it towards her. Very Wintonesque, with an overlay of magic, the novelist takes the reader to a small Australian rural community surrounded by salt pans and the mysterious Tackoo with its otherworldly Dreamtime? Cassie finds out she is in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
In Siddon Rock, one of the messages is that the untamed landscape will have its way. A wonderful book with many underlying layers. It's about a woman the eponymous Cassandra who is told she has early stage Alzheimer's. I would have wrapped him up and taken him with me for the rest of the trip! It is only when refugee Catalin Morningstar and her young son Josis arrive and stir up the town that Macha realizes there is nothing she can do to keep the townspeople safe. Loved this beautifully written book. Sandy also did the Australian Siddon Rock cover, in 2009, and I love how the different world views are demonstrated between young Australia, on left, and old Europe, on right: Hi Sue — thanks for asking, but not this time.
A little heavy on the Shakespeare quotes but a fine literary read that is bittersweet as you discover the events that have shaped Cassie's life. Siddon Rock comes with a large cast of characters and we move from one to the other, so it is perhaps not surprising if not all of them appealed to me equally. Guest has found her stride, and the reading experience is a lot better for it. She patrols Siddon Rock by night, watching over the town's inhabitants. Having made good her escape from the west and everything she has ever known, and banked that cumbersome bundle of cash, she falls into working at a tattoo parlour. A thoughtful and challenging story. Siddon Rock would be a perfect choice for a book-club, with lots to dissect and discuss, including, in my view, the poor ending! Book groups would have a wonderful time with this book! One of the central themes — that of the secrets the characters carry — really comes together.
You can see the influence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in this portrayal of a small town in the Australian outback. Per leggere la recensione per intero:. Guest expertly renders her setting: the dry, the dust and the heat are almost palpable. The way we move in and out of experience feels close to life, punctuated with flashes of mystery and significance. The great thing about the magic realism of Garcia Marquez or Salman Rushdie or even Peter Carey is that it feels necessary for the story; it adds meaning to the realism. This is a finely crafted story about a woman facing an uncertain future and also looking back at the past.
This is an understated, but beautifully told story, about the kinds of doubt and worry that we all experience at times. Cassie finds out she is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Before her occasional symptoms take a deeper hold on her brain, she needs to finally find out if, all those years ago, she made the right decision. Readers of her debut novel, Siddon Rock, will recognise the Aberline name; those new to her work will very likely want to seek it out. .