Janette Turner Hospital’s anthology of stories gathers together a striking array of disturbed and disturbing characters—the forthright daughter of a cult leader, a young woman facing her father for the first time in years, the devastated parents of an abducted youth, and two young girls who bond though self-harm. Each story deftly depicts personal struggle in an often indifferent world; the empathy, sadness, shock and occasional horror that I felt while reading this collection is a testament to Turner Hospital’s skill. The theme of family turmoil— particularly in the relationships between parents and children—flows through the collection and is reflected in the central motif of stormy weather. Turner Hospital’s writing is both sharp and intimate. She doesn’t shy away from brutality, and in this—and the theme of individuals struggling among forces much larger than themselves—it contains similarities to Due Preparations for the Plague. The collection concludes with a short memoir piece that considers the idea of individuals caught in the current through Turner Hospital’s own family history.
Portia Lindsay works at UNSW Bookshop. This review first appeared in the October issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.