Source- Review copy
Publisher- Allen and Unwin
Synopsis: We all have secret lives. And we are all pretty good at keeping them secret. With simplicity and great beauty, Currawalli Street reveals the echoes between past and present through the story of one ordinary street and its families, from the pre-war innocence of early 1914 to the painful and grim consequences of the Vietnam War. In 1914, Thomas, the young rector, questions his faith and falls in love; his sister Janet, a dutiful spinster, hides a surprising secret; and their neighbour, Rose, is burdened with visions of the coming hell. In 1972, Jim, a soldier fresh from Vietnam, returns home to Currawalli Street to find that death has a way of seeping in everywhere; Patrick, looked after by his elderly wife, Mary, can’t relinquish his former identity; and always there is the boy up in the tree, watching them all and keeping note. In only three short generations, working horses and wagons are lost to cars, wood-fired ovens are replaced with electric stoves, and the lessons learned at such cost in the Great War seem forgotten. But despite all the changes, the essential human things remain: there will always be families and friends reaching out for connection; people will always have secrets to keep hidden from view; and desire and love are as inevitable as war and violence. Deep, rich and satisfying, Currawalli Street links families and neighbours, their lovers and friends, in a powerful and moving dance through time.
Review: Currawalli Street is a slow read. In the first half of the book, each of the characters who live on Currawalli Street, Melbourne in 1914 are briefly introduced. Their lives intertwine but it is only revealed at surface level. Just as I started to get to know the characters, the second half of the book jumps two- three generations into the future (in 1978) post-Vietnam war and I had to get to know the new protagonist, Jim. It felt a little late in the story to get to know someone knew and I felt a little lost. Jim is the grandson of Kathleen and Johnny (who we meet in 1914, living on Currawalli Street) and he has returned from a stint in the Vietnam War. He battles PTSD along with the recent loss of his parents who were murdered. He returns to his family home and begins to uncover the family secrets.
The author has a wonderful way with language and I have no criticism about the writing style, but I think this book just wasn’t for me. There were too many characters for me to invest in and they disappeared halfway through the book and I felt like I had to start all over again.
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