Without a Backward Glance

Kate Veitch, Author . Plume $14 (371p) ISBN 978-0-452-28947-5

On Christmas Eve 1967, Rosemarie McDonald walks out the door of her suburban Melbourne home, leaving her husband behind to raise their four children: Deborah, the eldest at almost 13 and default mother; Robert, the compulsive worrier; James the peacemaker even at eight; and Meredith, the perpetual baby. Decades later, the children have forged their own families, but remain trapped in their original roles and are still somehow waiting for word from Rosemarie. When James rediscovers her on a trip to London, they are all faced with confronting their betrayer, and themselves, and possible forgiveness. Published under the title Listen in Veitch’s native Australia, the novel’s omniscient narration eavesdrops on the inner lives of each family member and their different ways of coping with abandonment—not all of them healthy. What emerges is a heartfelt yet unsentimental portrait of a family undone by a mother’s desire, and its struggle to find ways to keep going and keep together. (June)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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