Combined Reviews: Feather Man by Rhyll McMaster

feather_man.jpg Reviews of Feather Man by Rhyll McMaster
Brandl & Schlesinger

[This novel won the 2008 Barbara Jefferis Award.]

From the publisher's page

From parochial Brisbane of the 1950s, Sookie tries to escape her eccentric childhood where sinister sexuality is on the loose, and paint her way to better chances in the swinging London of the 1970s. Vastly intelligent, this dark comedy of the fictions of the heart is an edgy and dangerous work of portraiture.


Kerryn Goldsworthy in "The Australian": "McMaster is particularly good at conveying states of mind: the inferiority of a child who doesn't understand what is being done to her; the unrelenting negativity and meanness of spirit of a certain kind of Australian woman in a particular time and place; the dense tangle of feelings of a child sexually assaulted by someone that she and her family know and trust. One of this book's most valuable insights is expressed in its acknowledgement that the ambivalent feelings and betrayal of trust involved in sexual assault by someone known to the victim might do even more psychological damage than the assault itself."

Rachel Slater in "Australian Women's Book Review": "The story is reminiscent of Christina Stead's 1945 novel For Love Alone in its movement between Australia and London and its strong-willed protagonist who nevertheless traipses to the other side of the world for the 'love' of a contemptuous and narcissistic man who uses her devotion and naivety to achieve his own ends...Another reviewer has suggested that there seems to be an uncomfortable mixture of feminist tract meets Mills & Boon in this part of the novel (and here again are echoes of For Love Alone). There certainly is a sense of that, just as there are moments where the narrative wobbles on its usually well-laid track, but McMaster pulls it back from the brink and delivers an impressive first novel -- rich, darkly funny and disturbing; it works."

Andrew Reimer in "Brisbane Times": "It is generally true, I think, that poets have difficulty in making the transition from the compressed, highly allusive diction of their verse to the more discursive demands of prose fiction. With this fine first novel, the noted poet Rhyll McMaster proves that she is an exception. Admirers of her poetry will find, however, any number of phrases and clusters of images that bring the best of her verse to mind...Her eye for detail, for recognising the exceptional in the most mundane of things, illuminates these pages. The seedy ordinariness of life in London is superbly conveyed. The satiric strain that distinguishes some of the earlier sections -- the marvellous comedy of a Brisbane wedding for instance -- survives the journey to London. A nightmarish episode set in a grim, ill-lit hospital is particularly vivid. And, almost everywhere, the rich texture of allusions, imagery and remembrances of things past allows this portion of her novel to rise above the predictable."

On the "LiteraryMinded" weblog: "Rhyll McMaster has had six books of poetry published, many of them prize-winning, but this is her first novel. For a poet she shows restraint and delicacy in her prose while still embellishing it with apt imagery. This is a beautiful and worthy Australian novel with absorbing characterisation and layers of resonant themes."

Short notices

Christina Hill in "Australian Book Review": "This superb first novel is beautifully written but not for the faint-hearted. In the disturbing genre of Amy Wittings I For Isobel (1989) and Jessica Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River (1978), it is nonetheless in a class of its own."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 10, 2008 10:06 AM.

Helen Garner Watch #1 was the previous entry in this blog.

Review: Vinyl Inside by Rachel Matthews is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en