Thursday, April 16, 2015

Oyster | Janette Turner Hospital

This is one of Turner Hospital's earliest works. It is a bit less polished than her later works but a great read nonetheless.

This novel is set in the outback of Australia, in a town that seems not to officially exist, which shuns outsiders and where people seem to disappear in huge numbers.

We switch narrators quite often which is disconcerting at first until we learn to recognise the voices of the characters, which took me a while. The town's deterioration begins with the appearance of Oyster, a self-styled guru preaching peace on earth and the approach of Armageddon. The town is urged to arm itself and to shun all outsiders. Oyster procures an opal mine where the local youth flock to live in community and mine the opals. After a period of peace, Oyster seems to decline into madness and obsession. Rules are tightened, the community becomes more a cult and the young people start disappearing.

We discover the story bit by bit as the narrators reveal how the shame of what has happened touches all of  their lives.

I enjoyed Turner Hospital's ability to tell a story, build tension and her amazing lyricism.

Well worth reading, as are her other novels. Her style develops and becomes more streamline.

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