33267485._UY630_SR1200,630_Jane Rawson’s book From the Wreck is an unexpected gem. An original. With its well-drawn scenes from historical times – Australia in the mid-1800s – this is a story that unfolds with exquisite timing, revealing a complete picture that remains hauntingly with the reader for months after the cover is closed. It’s not just the writing here that’s good, but the idea of how the physical and mental intersect to produce the odd, the inexplicable and the effecting. The reader sees what’s happening and would like to step into the past to sort things out for the players without disturbing too much other than putting things right. It is, in this way, that the tension, balanced in the proper proportion, moves the story along.

Completely believable despite the mysterious and unexplainable presence at the narrative’s centre, it’s odd. And yet, in human terms, it makes sense. We know this kind of phenomenon – this cephalopod alien – even though we may not credit it real. We see it even though it may be beyond our powers of description. From the Wreck leaves us with an understanding of something at the core of how trauma sticks, and of how corrupting and malignant experiences get into our bodies and change our lives.

 

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