Chris Womersley’s BEREFT

In an attempt to get myself across the whole eBook/eReading thing I am trying to alternate my reading between a physical book and an eBook. One of the benefits of this is, more often than not, I end up reading a current or older book rather than an advanced one. I wanted to road test Readings’ new eBook platform, BEREFT jumped out at me as one of those books I knew I should have read last year but just didn’t get around to. And now I had the excuse I needed to read it.

Set in the rural NSW town of Flint 16-year-old Quinn Walker is accused of his sister Sarah’s murder. In a panic he runs away, eventually joining the Australian Army and serving at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. His family is told that he has been killed. After the war Quinn decides to return home and confront the truth about what happened to his sister, his accusers and his family.

BEREFT is a rural, gothic masterpiece that is sorrowful, poignant and keeps you enthralled and guessing until the final pages. It is about personal and collective devastation, revenge and redemption and its consequences; close and personal as well as massive and far away. There is also a ghostliness to the story. Quinn (and the world as a whole) is haunted by death that seems to surround everything; from murder to war to a flu epidemic. The present is blurred by the past and a longing for what has been lost. The harshness and beauty of the Australian landscape adds brilliantly to this haunting atmosphere.

I hope this book wins a tonne of prizes this year. It is already up for The Indie Award (which I also cheering on P.M. Newton’s THE OLD SCHOOL) and I am sure it will be on The Miles Franklin shortlist. I am so glad I gave myself a second chance to read this.

Watch my video review here

8 thoughts on “Chris Womersley’s BEREFT

  1. I read a review of this book a few weeks ago and thought that it sounded amazing. Something about the way in which it was reviewed made me think a little bit of McGahan’s The White Earth, I’m not sure why – I’m sure they are very different, but the review just gave me the same sort of feeling that The White Earth did.

    In any event, it sounds like a fascinating story and I will look forward to reading it when I get a chance.


      1. Really!? I enjoyed it – but not that much 🙂 That is a really big call to make. Off the top of my head I think that mine might be…… Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan.

        But Picnic at Hanging Rock and The True History of the Kelly Gang would be close.


  2. The Australian gothic angle was fascinating, but I was hoping for more historical detail on a grander scale regarding the era. My expecations were focused in the wrong place.


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