Category Archives: Faulkner – Annah

The Beloved by Annah Faulkner

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I wouldn’t have read The Beloved by Annah Faulkner if I had realised that I had already read Last Day in the Dynamite Factory by this author, which I found quite dull. The Beloved was a much better book, although in this case, there was too much going on.

The Beloved is told by a child, Bertie Lightfoot. She is a likeable and unusual heroine, who lives for art and is able to see people’s auras as a colour.*

The story begins with Bertie catching polio while living in Melbourne in the 1950’s. She loses the use of one of her legs and remains in hospital for a very long time. Eventually Bertie’s mother, Lily May, gets fed up with Bertie’s lack of improvement and brings her home, where she dedicates herself to Bertie’s recovery. Bertie eventually recovers use of her leg, although she needs to wear a brace and a built-up shoe.

Lily May is a strong woman who loves Bertie deeply, but does not believe that Bertie sees auras and refuses to encourage her daughter’s artistic nature. I found this aspect of Lily May’s nature to be at odds to her personality, as she was encouraging towards her children in every other way.

The plot was choppy due to constant changes of location. The family started off in Melbourne, then headed off to Sydney. Next thing they went New Guinea to live, followed by visits to Canada, back to Sydney and then back again to New Guinea. I couldn’t keep up and felt that the constant changes of location detracted from the actual story, which was that of Bertie and Lily May’s relationship. If the locations had only used Melbourne and New Guinea I think the story still would have worked and would have been better for it.

The plot also had a touch of ‘throw in everything including the kitchen sink’ and would have been improved by cutting out some of the things which were unnecessary to the telling of the story. I got the feeling that the author didn’t know what was important to the story, with disapproving grandparents, dead first loves, affairs and hidden relationships strewn throughout.

I would have preferred to have stuck more closely to the story of Bertie’s parents marriage, and the battle between Bertie and Lily May over Bertie’s art.

I loved the cover art of The Beloved, which I thought was perfect for the story of an artistic child who sees other people’s auras as a colour.

*On a scientific note, I investigated the subject of seeing auras (on the internet, where else?) and found some techniques. I tried staring at my hand for ten seconds, but unfortunately I couldn’t see my aura. I then went cross-eyed, and saw about eight fingers on one hand, but still couldn’t get an aura. The website I looked at said some people have to practice for months before they can see auras. Since I think wanting to see auras is just a passing phase for me, I gave up. Plus, the website I looked at seemed a bit shonky. They said that if I phoned them up and gave them my credit card number, they would tell me all about my aura.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Day in the Dynamite Factory by Annah Faulkner

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Annah Faulkner, the author of Last Day in the Dynamite Factory, was previously shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award, which is Australia’s most prestigious award for stories of high literary merit presenting Australian life.

The main character is Christopher Bright, a successful conservation architect in his forties. Christopher is married and has two grown up children. Superficially, Chris’s life looks wonderful, but underneath things are more complicated. Chris was brought up by his aunt and her husband, after his mother was killed when he was a baby. After his aunt dies, Chris stumbles across a secret about his father which changes everything for him.

Chris loves Dianne, but finds his marriage unsatisfying, and feels unwanted by his wife, Dianne.

This book is full of family secrets, most of which I found to be predictable. I think the author used the saying, ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,’ as inspiration for the plot, with Chris following in the footsteps of his father, particularly in his passion for a woman who is not his wife.

I kept hoping for more from Last Day in the Dynamite Factory, but never quite getting what I wanted, which is a bit like the relationship between Chris and Dianne. Nor did I get the strong sense of place I was hoping for from this novel though, which is set in Queensland and Melbourne.

I’m actually struggling to find anything more to say about the story. I almost stopped reading this book about half way through because I got bored, but finished because it was quite an easy read. I don’t even feel enough emotion about Last Day in the Dynamite Factory to write a cutting review, which, although not very kind, can be much more fun than reading a dull book.

 

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Filed under Australian Author, Author, Book Review, Faulkner - Annah