Review: Vinyl Inside by Rachel Matthews

vinyl_inside.gif    Rachel Matthews
Transit Lounge, 251 pp.
Source: review copy
Review by Bernadette Gooden

This is a well-written, engaging read based around a simple idea. Twenty years before the story unfolds a young girl was forced to give a child up for adoption. Now the child has come to find the mother. The story is about the impact that action has on the mother's life.

Set in a caravan park in 80's Australia, this is a universal story and also a typically Australian story, especially for those who grew up during this era. It's hard to imagine a 15 year old girl being forced to relinquish a child in such an inhuman way now, but back in the 60's that's the way it was done and it was "all for the best".

We are introduced to a couple, Elsie and Sterling, who live in Splashes Caravan Park and who seem to have a settled life. They have a very loving relationship and do good in the community they live in. The author goes into great detail to recreate the Australia of this era in an almost cinematic way.

Herein lie two small criticisms about the book that I found distracted from the writing. Firstly, some books have the whiff of future screenplay about them, as though they have been written with that solely in mind, and I certainly got this feeling as I read this book. I can almost visualise the actors who could play the roles. Most of them are in Kath and Kim!

Secondly, I did feel that I was trapped inside a trivia quiz on the 80's. The pop culture references to the period are completely overwhelming. It distracted from the good storyline and well developed characters. The depiction of the strine accent and liberal peppering of Aussie expressions is a little over the top as well. It is very Bazza McKenzie.

However, the building of the relationship between Elsie and Sterling and their reactions to the arrival of Dania into their close, well-ordered existence is spot on. The fear, shock and feelings of betrayal they must work through to go on together are beautifully portrayed. This story certainly covers all the issues surrounding the adoption process, and how it affects the lives of those involved.

This is a humorous and very moving story, a great debut novel from Rachel Matthews.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 10, 2008 1:16 PM.

Combined Reviews: Feather Man by Rhyll McMaster was the previous entry in this blog.

Blast From the Past: When Marcus Clarke Wrote Thrillers by J.P. Quaine is the next entry in this blog.

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