Chris Womersley’s BEREFT
Set in the rural NSW town of Flint 16-year-old Quinn Walker is accused of his sister Sarah’s murder. In a panic he runs away, eventually joining the Australian Army and serving at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. His family is told that he has been killed. After the war Quinn decides to return home and confront the truth about what happened to his sister, his accusers and his family.
BEREFT is a rural, gothic masterpiece that is sorrowful, poignant and keeps you enthralled and guessing until the final pages. It is about personal and collective devastation, revenge and redemption and its consequences; close and personal as well as massive and far away. There is also a ghostliness to the story. Quinn (and the world as a whole) is haunted by death that seems to surround everything; from murder to war to a flu epidemic. The present is blurred by the past and a longing for what has been lost. The harshness and beauty of the Australian landscape adds brilliantly to this haunting atmosphere.
I hope this book wins a tonne of prizes this year. It is already up for The Indie Award (which I also cheering on P.M. Newton’s THE OLD SCHOOL) and I am sure it will be on The Miles Franklin shortlist. I am so glad I gave myself a second chance to read this.
Watch my video review here