Book 40: Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson

Regular readers of this blog know I’m a sucker for a good cover. And honestly, how could I have walked past this pearler? Just exquisite.

What I didn’t know was that Inga Simpson is a fine writer and hails from the same part of the world as me – the central west of NSW.

This, her third novel, is set partly near my hometown of Orange and partly in my adopted home of Canberra, and she brings both to life beautifully.

Canberra has been the backdrop for an increasing number of stories lately but it’s never been more perfectly captured than it is here. The book is a love letter to this city that – though much maligned by outsiders – we locals know is pretty much paradise on Earth.

The story revolves around Jayne, going and back and forth between her childhood on a farm and her adulthood working in art history.

The childhood chapters focus on Jayne’s discovery of a special grove, an Aboriginal burial site. But they’re really about the events and tragedies that take away our innocence and force us to grow up. The adult chapters relate back to the grove in surprising ways but here too there is a deeper meaning: about the compromises we make as we get older – and those we just cannot make.

Simpson’s writing is simple but powerful, and her characters totally believable. She brings authenticity and pathos to a small but affecting story.

Next: another sci-fi thriller. Hopefully better than the last one.

Author: adamgartrell

Political journalist drowning in books

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