Author: Malcolm Knox
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary
Dates read: 9th – 18th September 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
5th sentence, 74th page: Sam let this pass, out of respect for the awkwardness of Gordon’s situation or because he saw a wave.
A stunning new novel about longing, regret, redemption and the terrible legacy of decades of secrets buried in an Australian beachside suburb.
A house perched impossibly on a cliff overlooking the stunning, iconic Bluebird Beach. Prime real estate, yet somehow not real estate at all, The Lodge is, like those who live in it, falling apart.
Gordon Grimes has become the accidental keeper of this last relic of an endangered world. He lives in The Lodge with his wife Kelly who is trying to leave him, their son Ben who will do anything to save him, his goddaughter Lou who is hiding from her own troubles, and Leonie, the family matriarch who has trapped them here for their own good.
But Gordon has no money and is running out of time to conserve his homeland. His love for this way of life will drive him, and everyone around him, to increasingly desperate risks. In the end, what will it cost them to hang onto their past?
Acclaimed writer Malcolm Knox has written a classic Australian novel about the myths that come to define families and communities, and the lies that uphold them. It’s about a certain kind of Australia that we all recognise, and a certain kind of Australian whose currency is running out. Change is coming to Bluebird, whether they like it or not. And the secrets they’ve been keeping and the lies they’ve been telling can’t save them now.
Savage, funny, revelatory and brilliant, Bluebird exposes the hollowness of the stories told to glorify a dying culture and shows how those who seek to preserve these myths end up being crushed by them.
It took me a little while to truly get into this novel. To be honest, at first I didn’t think that I’d enjoy it all. I found the lead character, Gordon, a little difficult to feel sympathy for or bond with. But about two chapters in, that all changed. Somehow all of those little moments that made it difficult to feel bonded with Gordon suddenly became the very reasons why I wanted him to find his own happiness and bliss. It was completely unexpected and kind of exciting. Definitely a talented way to make you seriously feel for a character, whilst also highlighting all of their flaws (and who doesn’t love a flawed protagonist?)
Even though I did eventually feel somewhat attached to Gordon, he was still a fairly wishy washy and somewhat whinney feeling protagonist. Personally, I generally prefer my leads to have a bit of a backbone. And even though he does finally manage to do so, it’s still not the backbone that I would have liked to see. Yet, having said that. There is not a thing I would change about him – I feel like that’s a truly wonderful talent – creating a protagonist that I would normally kind of hate, and making me think that he was ultimately perfect.
The part of this story that I enjoyed the most was the constant familiarity throughout the story. There were so many scenes, moments and characters that felt like the people and places that I know in my everyday life. A small town that is stuck in its ways and impossible to forget. Difficult to let go of and hard to move on from? It was definitely the kind of story that plucked all of my nostalgic, Aussie heart strings. I’m not really sure how someone not from Australia would feel about all of this nostalgia, but I’ll certainly be recommending this to my overseas friends as well as my local friends!
This is a great and very intense story that focuses on the things we do for love – whether that’s staying or leaving. Keeping secrets or telling the truth. Love definitely governs all in this story, with a dash of secret keeping and the ties that bind us to family. It was intense and gorgeous. Definitely a book well worth reading!