The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland

Published: 2021 1. First lines 2. Cover Harper Collins 3. Bruny Island, Tasmania [CC BY 2.0] via flickr 4. Late night beach party [CC BY 2.0] via flickr

After twenty years, two friends reunite. Kase and Sylvie, now in their 40s, had been inseparable until a shocking event at a teenage party drove them apart, leaving Sylvie deeply affected, both physically and mentally. This is the story of how Sylvie deals with meeting her friends from the past, and how she confronts past events that her memory had denied.

“No, no, no, no, what have they done to you?”

Like Better Reading I loved the way the setting of Bruny Island is brought to life “through vibrant detail and evocative prose”. However, I didn’t feel much empathy with the character of Sylvie, who Better Reading says “makes for an extremely compelling and likeable protagonist”. The Australian Book Review also comments about the author depicting “a strong sense of place”, but that “the conclusion feels rather rushed. In the final section of the novel, the plot takes a detour into #MeToo territory. It’s an unexpected turn but a welcome one, giving the plot a much-needed shot in the arm and saving it from predictability. Frustratingly, it occurs too late in the narrative to feel like anything other than a plot device to facilitate a happy ending.”

Here’s another book set on Bruny Island: “Bruny” by Heather Rose


“She wasn’t in the mood for a party any longer. the feeling of wanting to escape into a book had returned. To curl up in bed and shut out the uncertainty. To shut out the world. She wondered how people lived full-time in reality. How they remained tethered to the ground, instead of freeing their minds t float into other worlds.”

“There were so many emotions the English language could not adequately express. Why, for example wasn’t there a word for the way friendships could go into hibernation for years and seemingly awaken as if no time had passed?”

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