Manage episode 348735585 series 2381791
Holly Throsby is novelist and musician and whether it’s a three minute folk pop tune or three hundred page novel, she knows how to spin a yarn. Holly’s novels Goodwood and Cedar Valley have been nominated for Ned Kelly, Davitt and Indie book awards and her new novel Clarke is destined to continue the tradition of exploring the warm welcomes, community and dark underbelly of 90’s regional Australia..
In a nondescript street in Clarke (a city since the seventies) Barney Clarke (no relation) is woken by a knock on the door. A veritable platoon of police have arrived to execute a search warrant on his house and backyard.
Next door Leonie observes the police’s arrival, thinking to herself that they are six years too late to help her missing friend Ginny Lawson.
From these simple but compelling beginnings Holly Throsby weaves a story of the lives, community and institutions we come to rely on, and how they too often fall short in protecting those most vulnerable.
Clarke is told through the alternating stories of Leonie and Barney. As the police scour Barney’s rental property for clues to the disappearance of Ginny, we learn that both Leonie and Barney have their own secrets.
Six years earlier Leonie and Ginny were neighbors. Leonie struggled to manage the expectations of her aging mother and awaited the infrequent return of her older sister. Leonie and Ginny would talk over the fence but rarely visited each other. Ginny’s husband wouldn’t allow it; didn’t think it was good for her.
Lou was an upstanding member of the community. Successful businessman and member of the local hunting club. They were the picture of the perfect suburban family and everyone thought how devastating it must have been for Lou when one day Ginny simply disappeared.
Across town Barney and Deb had their own picture of suburban idyll. Members of the hiking club and with their boy in high school, Deb and Barney formed the core of a large social circle.
So how is it that now Barney still wears a ring but lives alone. Why does Leonie mother Joe and where did he come from?
Clarke unfolds these stories with the question hanging over how we maintain the relationships that form our communities. Throsby shows us friendships hard won and worked on everyday and acquaintances that rely more on conjecture and hearsay. Into this space she leaves the fate of Ginny as open question; when nobody asks who will ever know the truth?
I love Holly Throsby’s novels for their mystery and for their warmth. Over three books she has crafted the wide expanse of the fictional Gather Region and populated it with people not dissimilar to ourselves. In holding up this mirror she is able to call into question the morals, the values, even the stories that seem fundamental to our sense of ourselves.
Clarke’s central mystery is not just ‘what really happened to Ginny Lawson’ but how it was allowed to happen. An open secret.
A culture of keeping up appearances is called into question and through Barney and Leonie we see a blossoming hope that we are more than the events of our past.
I’m a fan of Clarke and I’d have to say that while the Jacarandas are still purple and the sun’s not too hot, it’s the perfect read for an afternoon sitting in the sun.