Combined Reviews: The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy

world_beneath.jpg    The World Beneath
Cate Kennedy
Scribe Publications

From the publisher's page

Once, Rich and Sandy were environmental activists, part of a world-famous blockade in Tasmania to save the wilderness. Now, twenty-five years later, they have both settled into the uncomfortable compromises of middle age -- although they've gone about it in very different ways. About the only thing they have in common these days is their fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophie.

When the perennially restless Rich decides to take Sophie, whom he hardly knows, on a trek into the Tasmanian wilderness, his overconfidence and her growing disillusion with him set off a chain of events that no one could have predicted. Instead of respect, Rich finds antagonism in his relationship with Sophie; and in the vast landscape he once felt an affinity with, he encounters nothing but disorientation and fear.

Ultimately, all three characters will learn that if they are to survive, each must traverse not only the secret territories that lie between them but also those within themselves.


Jo Case in "Australian Book Review": The World Beneath skewers the same contemporary sacred cows as the recent bestseller Stuff White People Like,a book that slyly reveals the irony at the heart of inner-urban middle-class culture: everyone desperately trying to express their individuality by embracing the same 'unique' trends...This is a thought-provoking journey into contemporary Australia; an impressive d├ębut novel."

Kerryn Goldsworthy on her "Australian Literature Diary" weblog: "In some ways Kennedy is working the same territory as Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap: contemporary domestic realism focusing on parenting and on conflicting cultural values. But there's less cultural diversity, fewer characters, less sex, more social history, and a better plot." Kerryn points to both Jo Case's review and the Susan Wyndham interview (see below). Jo Case responds in the comments section.

Lisa Hill on the "ANZLitLovers" weblog: "The World Beneath is uniquely Australian. The main action of the novel takes place in the Tasmanian Wilderness, and two of its central characters came of age in the defining political moment of 1983 -- the fight to save the Franklin River. What is so interesting is the intersection of the intense significance of this moment for Rich and Sandy, with their daughter's indifference to it. It's all too long ago for fifteen-year-old Sophie, and she's heard about it too many times...The World Beneath takes a while to lure the reader in, because these three characters are each in their own way so tiresome that you don't want them in your life, not even in the pages of a book! But then before you know it you are there in the Tassie wilderness with Sophie and Rich and it's so compelling you can't put it down." Lisa picks it early for the 2010 Miles Frankin Award.


Susan Wyndham interviewed the author for the "Articulate" weblog.
Peter Mares on ABC Radio National's "Book Show".
Fiona Purdon in the "Courier-Mail".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 13, 2009 10:59 AM.

Reprint: Henry Kingsley: Novelist's Australian Years: Appeal for a Monument was the previous entry in this blog.

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