We first meet the Westaway family through the character of young Kip, brother to Francis and Connie, son to a grieving mother Jean and a recently deceased father. It is 1939 in Richmond, Melbourne’s inner-city working-class suburb, and the growing conflict in Europe is moving rapidly towards war. As we meet the rest of Kip’s family—and in time we meet his children and grandchild—we discover generations of the Westaway family at key moments in their lives. Nine days will see different members of the family making life-changing decisions—and not all of them happy ones. The tragic fate of Kip’s sister Connie Westaway has repercussions for the family and its reputation for many years. The other character in the book is Richmond; from the streets of tiny weatherboard houses in the 1930s where everyone knew everyone else’s business to today’s cosmopolitan blend. This is a Richmond story, a Melbourne story and an Australian story. Toni Jordan has written a beautiful novel which captures the loves and fears of an ordinary Australian family through hard times and better times. It reminded me of Elizabeth Stead’s books.
Chris Harrington is the co-owner of Books in Print in Melbourne