July 07

The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau

Hold the phone Joan because I had an epiphany reading this book.

It was this.  I mostly read Australian stories.

If anyone had said this to me a month ago I would have guffawed, strongly believing  I was a true global citizen of the reading kind.  Nope.  Having had a good look through my reviews and considering my favourite books and authors, I am, it seems, 100% true blue – or 80% at a pinch.

So there you go. This blog has taught me a lot about myself and I now add that to the list.

But epiphanies aside, let’s talk The World Without Us (and yes, it’s set here in Australia).

I loved this book – but I admit, it took me a little while.  The start was a bit slow but I just think this book deserves time to grow on you.  It shouldn’t be read quickly in my opinion, it should be savoured.

The tale is about a whole lot of things including bees and one of the main characters, the dark and mysterious Evangaline Muller who escaped life in a local commune, is the human equivalent of the Queen bee if you know what I mean.   Her story takes place in a secluded northern country town and her brood, the Muller family are the centrepiece.

Evangaline and husband Stefan have just suffered the devestating loss of their third daughter Pip, their daughter Tess stopped speaking overnight and human remains have been found on their farm.  Evangaline escapes each day, returning at dark, covered in mud and secrets. Stefan escapes into a bottle and the two remaining daughters try to make sense of their life as best they can while dealing with their own grief.

The story is as exotic and dark and dense as the rainforest town it is set in and the author beautifully weaves the characters together tighter and tighter with each chapter.  It is all wonderfully messy and therefore intoxicating to read.  This is about humans at their best and worst; their deepest secrets and scars; the tight bonds of the community they live in and the fallout when it unravels; and it is about living in profound sadness.  It’s about the beauty of survival and the strength of family and folks, in my book, that makes for a pretty good read – Australian or not.

But that is just my two cents worth…..