When Laura and Vik are children, their eccentric mother disappears during a flash flood on the family’s struggling property in rural Victorian. Though just a girl herself, Laura is forced to grow up fast and becomes a surrogate mother figure for Vik, compensating for their grief-stricken father’s shortcomings. As she progresses into young womanhood and eventually to middle age, the legacy of this reluctant childhood obligation underpins the choices she makes in adulthood, including her marriage to Luc, a charismatic environmental activist who is the inverse of her inarticulate farmer father. Laura’s is a small but heavy life, defined by a thoughtless act committed in her childhood and a guilty secret kept for decades. Though the narrative pacing is slow, Laura is a compelling character and Alice Robinson’s prose is lyrical and elegiac. The depictions of rural life—the caprices of native Australian wildlife, the grisly but necessary daily tasks of farming, the crucial significance of weather and increasingly dire effects of climate change—are reminiscent of Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread and Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship With Birds. Readers who enjoyed these novels will find Anchor Point is likewise an exquisite literary novel, and an accomplished character study. This is Robinson’s first novel.
Veronica Sullivan is online editor of Kill Your Darlings. This review first appeared in the Books+Publishing magazine Issue 1, 2015. View more pre-publication reviews here.