BOOK REVIEW: ‘Siddon Rock’ by Glenda Guest (Vintage)

Glenda Guest’s debut novel Siddon Rock (Vintage), which has just been announced as the winner of this year’s Commonwealth Writers Prize for best first book, received four stars from our reviewer Eliza Metcalfe way back in the November 2008 issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine. Here’s what Eliza had to say:

With sprinklings of magic realism and a deft hand for compelling characters, Glenda Guest has created one of the loveliest debut novels I’ve read in a long while. Many of the residents of the small, isolated town of Siddon Rock have washed up there with complicated lives behind them—or are descended from those with complex stories. They are seeking refuge from the wider, wilder world and finding some sort of peace and/or shelter in the town’s isolation. Over the course of the book a return, an arrival, and a sudden departure mark the points on which the narrative hinges, drawing you into the ways in which each of the townsfolk deal with the rumples in their lives. If I have one critique, it is that the character development sometimes comes at the expense of the narrative. Everyone in the town—and there seem to be surprisingly many of them—is so completely drawn that each individual’s tangent is fascinating enough to form the basis of the book itself. But that is a minor point really, for readers of contemporary Australian fiction, this is a terrific addition to the list and should be widely read and enjoyed.

Eliza Metcalfe is a freelance writer and editor and former assistant editor of Bookseller+Publisher. This review first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.