- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Picador Australia (27 August 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1760553158
- ISBN-13: 978-1760553159
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.7 x 23.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 440 g
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wolfe Island Paperback – 27 Aug 2019
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About the Author
Lucy Treloar was born in Malaysia and educated in England, Sweden and Melbourne. She is the author of the novel Salt Creek (2015), which won the Indie Award for Best Debut, the ABIA Matt Richell Award and the Dobbie Award, and was shortlisted for prizes including the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the UK's Walter Scott Prize.
Lucy also won the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize (Pacific Region) and the 2013 Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. Her short fiction has been published in Sleepers, Overland, Seizure and Best Australian Stories, and her non-fiction in newspapers and magazines including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, and Womankind.
A graduate of the University of Melbourne and RMIT, Lucy works as a writer of fiction and non-fiction, and as an occasional teacher and guest lecturer in creative writing. Lucy is currently undertaking a PhD and beginning work on her third novel. She lives in Melbourne with her family.
Winner of the Indie Award Best Debut Fiction, 2016
Short-listed for the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, 2016
Winner of the ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writer, 2016
Short-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, 2016
Short-listed for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, 2016
Winner of the Dobbie Literary Award, 2016
Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (Pacific Region), 2014
Winner of the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award, 2013
Asialink Writers Residency, 2011
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8 customer reviews
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Her 17 yo granddaughter Cat shows up unexpectedly, with boyfriend Josh, 17 yo Luis and his 7 yo sister Alejandra. Cat is fierce and to keep Kitty safe from compromising knowledge, none of them will say much about what has happened or why they are there. Kitty agrees to not mention their presence to her daughter Claudie (Cat’s mother). Cat becomes pregnant and when the baby is imminent, Claudie is summoned and the tension of her relationship with Kitty surfaces. Things take a dive on the island and Kitty decides to go north with the youngsters in a bid to get Luis and Alejandra to safety. It is a perilous journey. All along the coast houses are abandoned as invading salt water does its damage. Naturally, the locals aren’t too friendly. Bad things happen, forcing Kitty to question her actions, which seem to us stoically pragmatic. After saying goodbye to the young ones Kitty - now carless - has to walk back, encountering more danger. The quiet, unshocked way Kitty records all this is absolutely believable. Men will be predatory. She makes it back in one piece and has a reunion of sorts with her husband. However, the island is now unliveable. Cat and her baby can’t come back because of the people smuggling, but Kitty does have a rapprochement with Claudie. Interwoven with these family relationships is the story of what happened with Tobe, Kitty’s other child. Grief is never far away, nor courage.
It’s a quiet, ruminative book despite the horrors of what happens and quite lyrical in parts, especially when describing the sea and the weather. Lucy Treloar has absolutely got into Kitty’s mindset and her depiction of a dystopian near future is quite likely to prove utterly correct.
The five of them, and Girl, work out ways of living together. While it becomes clear while Luis and Alejandra need refuge, it is less clear (at least to begin with) why Cat and Josh do. Alejandra is clearly traumatised; Luis is very protective. Cat wants to make a difference, by helping others who need help fleeing persecution. And Josh?
But the time comes when Wolfe Island is no longer safe. And Kitty must decide whether (and how) she can help those fleeing for their lives.
‘Get busy, that’s the way to deal with it. Doing something helps you forget your troubles.’
Much of the novel is a long journey, from past through present and into what is at best an uncertain future. Everyone must make choices, but Kitty’s choices are made more difficult because she is older and more aware of consequences. She’s practical and protective, focussed and strong. The group is travelling north, to try to find safety for Luis and Alejandra. Slowly stories unfold and as they do, I thought about the world this novel is set in. Much of it is recognisable: vigilantes focussed on who is ‘legal’ (or looks legal), suspicious of strangers, wanting to move on those who don’t belong. Kitty intervenes where she must to keep her group safe. The world is changing, and not for the better.
‘I still have to live with it, though. The rightness of an action doesn’t set you free from it; only sets you free from the danger.’
Kitty’s notebook, her writing, at first helps her adjust to life on Wolfe Island with others. It’s part reflection on the past, part list of things found and later events. We journey with Kitty, experience her concerns and regrets, understand her choices. And how will it end?
‘It’s a long time ago, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Memories are as faithful as dogs in their way, though not always tame.’
I finished this novel convinced that it will be one of my favourite novels of 2019. I’m writing this review a week later having reflected on why this novel has had such an impact on me. Kitty Hawke’s world is both bleak and beautiful, the threats faced feel so real, as do Kitty’s regrets. Ms Treloar conveys this story through Kitty and her connection to place, her observation of the world. There are hard edges, difficult choices and tragedy. There’s also reflection on the different forms of family, on the beauty of the natural environment, and what we all stand to lose.
‘We went out the next day, it being as fine and still as any other I have experienced, if not as warm. The algal blooms had died and the water had turned old-fashioned blue: taut, brimful, sequined.’
A novel that invites careful reading and reflection. A novel I will reread.