Springtime by Michelle De Kretser – Review

Published by Allen and Unwin

Publication date – 5 March 2015

Source – prize

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“When Frances met Charlie at a party in Melbourne he was married with a young son.

Now she and Charlie live in Sydney with her rescue dog Rod and an unshakeable sense that they have tipped the world on its axis. They are still getting their bearings – of each other and of their adopted city. Everything is alien, unfamiliar, exotic: haunting, even.

Worlds of meaning spin out of perfectly chosen words in this rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story by Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning writer Michelle de Kretser.”

3 of 5 stars

Frances has just moved to Sydney from Melbourne with her new husband Charlie. Bewildered by the changes in her life she seeks comfort walking her dog along the winding city streets, taking in the scenery. On her walks she comes across a woman through a fence. Is the woman all she seems and will the move to Sydney bring Frances the life she craves?

I won a copy of this book and it had been sat on the TBR pile for a while, almost hidden by the other books. This is a small neat hardback book, a novella of less than 90 pages, interspersed with lovely prints that match the front cover. I picked it up whilst deciding what ‘big’ book to read and managed to finish it in about an hour.

For such a short story this is a very descriptive book, the writing of which skill highly desirable given the limited number of words.  France’s studies and relate to the symbolism in historical works of art, including references to flowers and it is these that Frances often relates to in her narrative. I could easily imagine myself with her on the streets of Sydney as Frances, feeling slightly overwhelmed and out of place, tries to find some grounding and solidity in the things she recognises and feels comfortable with.

For me, it wasn’t really a ghost story in the truest sense. I don’t scare easily and I wasn’t looking for that in this book, which is why I wasn’t disappointed that there was no big scares.

The real ‘ghost’ in this story is the spectre of Charlie’s previous marriage looming over this new relationship. Frances can see it wherever she goes and is chased by the presence of his absent ex-wife and reminded of it when his young son visits.

This book made an interesting change to my usual read. The perfect length to read in your lunch break or just before bed.

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