Combined Reviews: Careless by Deborah Robertson

careless.jpg Reviews of Careless by Deborah Robertson.

[This novel has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific) Best Book category, and longlisted for the 2007 Miles Franklin Award.]

Description from the publisher's page:
"In the midst of her life with her small brother and unpredictable mother, Pearl is a child who strives to get things right. But the events of one summer's day are about to change her life, and nothing may ever be right again. In ways connected but unforeseen, this child's tragedy will also enter the lives of two strangers. Sonia lives in a cooler, greener part of the city, where she is learning to live alone after the death of her famous husband. And at the edge of the city, close to the beaches, in a run-down building, the young sculptor Adam Logan contemplates the celebrity that his artwork has brought to him.

"Through a seductively woven plot that reflects the interlacing nature of our lives, Careless explores the ties of caring and responsibility, for the living and the dead, that are formed, and broken, in our society."

Emily Ballou, in "Australian Book Review", published the most detailed review of the novel, though, maybe not the most understandable. "The first thing about Deborah Robertson's first novel, Careless, that strikes the reader is the way her prose style cuts like sand." Rubs, maybe, but cuts? I'm not so sure. Anyway, she gets to the point straight afterwards: "The story of three individuals united by the murder of six children is compelling, but what impresses is Robertson's love of language, the precision of her sentences, as well as her gentle philosophical imagination and the deeper questions her book seeks to answer." This might well be a first novel, but it appears to have been some time in the crafting, and is better for it. "Robertson's prose has been well honed, polished to shine. It has the capacity to shift suddenly, to for unexpected shapes from a thousand glittering grains." And yet, at the end, Ballou feels disappointed, calling the novel's ending "ultimately disappointing".

In "The Age", Juliette Hughes is impressed: "Careless, by Deborah Robertson, is, paradoxically enough written with great care. Each plot part is assiduously interwoven with another: themes of grief, loss, responsibility and betrayal recur as characters do the work that she has set them in slow-moving, hyper-observant present tense."

Similarly, Peter Pierce, in "The Bulletin" found much to commend in the novel: "With Proudflesh, a prize-winning volume of short stories behind her, Robertson is an experienced writer. Yet little could have prepared her previous readers for the ambition, intelligence and confidence of structural touch of Careless."

Unusually, for a first Australian novel, Careless was also published in the UK. Rachel Moore in "The Guardian" was quite moved by it. As Moore puts it, the author "is fascinated by ways we memorialise the dead...[but]...the author does not dwell on death itself, rather on the care and responsibility that people do or don't exercise towards one another in life. She is best as a miniaturist, in the style of Helen Dunmore, her observations as carefully chosen and charged with feeling as pebbles placed on a grave...Careless is an elegy for the lost and the grieving, but it also offers hope."

In "The Sydney Morning Herald", Angela Bennie interviewed the author in the middle of 2006.

Other novels on the 2007 Miles Franklin Award longlist:

Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey
Silent Parts by John Charalambous
The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan
Beyond The Break by Sandra Hall
Dreams Of Speaking by Gail Jones
The Unexpected Elements Of Love by Kate Legge
Careless by Deborah Robertson
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 21, 2007 10:55 AM.

2007 Australian Shadows Award Winner was the previous entry in this blog.

On Other Blogs #21 is the next entry in this blog.

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