Review: Bereft

Bereft by Chris Womersley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel has been on my tbr list for a really long time, when I finally got to reading it I did so without re-reading the blurb, I just launched into it. That was probably a really good thing as I had thought I’d had my fill of war survivor stories for a while, but this one was very different to those I’ve read this year. The setting of small Australian town and it’s surrounds was beautifully drawn by the author, I loved the descriptions of the shimmering heat and the suffering of the people of the town, their attitudes and how badly they suffered in the influenza outbreak after the war. Sergeant Quinn Walker has been absent for a really long time, he ran away after his sister was murdered when he was a kid, but something draws him back to his hometown when the war is over. He needs to try and make things right and to tell the truth about who really killed his beloved sister.

This book has a touch of mystical realism which I often find isn’t my cup of tea, but here it works well. The young girl he meets in the bush is a wonderful invention. Her air of magic is engaging and I found myself enjoying her part in the story a lot. On the surface this is a simple story, but the writing is gorgeous and lush and draws you into Quinn as his suspicious nature and his hurt are gradually soothed by Sadie and her skills. There are some great scenes in the book, scenes to make you smile as you are with Quinn dealing with his enormous losses. If you like Australian historical stories this is a great one.

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