Combined Reviews: Salt Rain by Sarah Armstrong

salt_rain.jpg Reviews of Salt Rain by Sarah Armstrong.

For a novel that has now been included on the 2005 Miles Franklin Award shortlist, Salt Rain has received remarkably few mentions in the mainstream press. Rather, I should say, few reviews from the mainstream press are available on the web. Which is a bit poor.

The publishers, Allen & Unwin, describe the book as "An extraordinarily evocative novel of discovery, where fourteen-year-old Allie gradually realises that the picture of the past she is piecing together is different and much more complicated than she ever thought." After Allie's mother disappears she is sent north to her aunt's farm to live, and wait.

Robin Osborne in "The Northern Rivers Echo" describes it as a "story about 14-year-old Allie whose Bohemian mother would never reveal the identity of the girl's father...At the core of this confronting tale lies the inappropriate crossing of personal boundaries, mostly sexual ones, and it is not an easy book to review without revealing the genuinely 'dark secret' around which the plot revolves."

So it's a coming-of-age novel in which the main character must not only discover who she is, but also who her mother really is and was - "an extraordinarily evocative novel of discovery", as Boomerang Books sees it.

Judith Ridge, on her Misrule Blog was obviously taken by the emotional force of the book: "Salt Rain reads like an elegy for lost loves, lost family, lost innocence. It drips with atmosphere, and northern rivers rain. It's a visceral book about grief and anger and love and sex, about family. It's also a somewhat troubling story about the nature of childhood innocence and loss."

These reviews have been universal in their praise for the book, but let us not forget that it is a first novel and Lorien Kaye, in the "Australian Book Review" found that it was not flawless. "The climax and resolution, for instance are too close together, and rely on the too-convenient and overused narrative device of a feverish illness coinciding with emotional realisation...Nevertheless, this is a well-shaped and well-written book. Armstrong mostly measures the tempo, gradually revealling the truth, depicting her character's development without explicitly discussing it. She has a fine, readable style, one that doesn't clamour for attention."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 4, 2005 10:18 AM.

New Works by Australian Authors was the previous entry in this blog.

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