The Lost Child
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The Lost Child

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Longlisted for the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award From the headland, we look across to the lighthouse on Seal Island where Mr Hammett has to take the gas bottle to keep the light flashing at night. Aunt Cele says there is no land between us and the bottom of the world where everything is white ice and there are penguins as big as men, but I know this already because Dunc has told me. Sylvie is five. It's the 1950s and she lives in Burley Point, a fishing village south of the Coorong on Australia's wild southern coast. She worships her older brother Dunc. She tries to make sense of her brooding mother, and her moody father who abandons the family to visit The Trollop, Layle Lewis, who lives across the lagoon. It's hard to keep secrets in a small town, but when Dunc goes missing, Sylvie is terrified that she is the cause. Now her father is angry all the time; her mother won't leave the house or stop cleaning. The bush and the birds and the endless beach are Sylvie's only salvation, apart from her teacher, Miss Taylor. In the tradition of the novels of Anne Tyler and Eudora Welty, The Lost Child is a beautifully written story about family and identity and growing up. Sylvie is a charming narrator with a big heart and a sharp eye for the comic moment. As the years go by she learns how tiny events can changes entire lives, and how leaving might be the only solution when the the world will never be the same again.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 298 pages
  • 154 x 234 x 26mm | 399.99g
  • Text Publishing Co
  • The Text Publishing Company
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • English
  • 1922147788
  • 9781922147783
  • 316,823

About Suzanne McCourt

Authors Bio, not available

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Review quote

'The Lost Child is an assured and bittersweet coming-of-age tale with a vivid sense of time and place...The novel is a strong addition to the shelves of Australian literary fiction.' Australian Bookseller and Publisher 'Written in beautiful, slow prose...This is a promising debut...You can't help but be keen to see what she does next.' Adelaide Advertiser 'McCourt's writing is assured and sinuous.' -- Belle Place, Readings 'Suzanne McCourt has with great empathy and skill created the turmoil in the mind of a little girl...a haunting story, it also demonstrates the power of the human psyche to overcome past difficulties and find was to fully live.' Otago Daily Times 'There are echoes of Tim Winton in McCourt's coastal small-town coming-of-age/breaking of spirit/triumphing over the odds under a wide sky-style writing...plainspoken but deftly crafted, laced with both humour and searing sadness. Highly recommended.' NZ Herald 'There's a watchful intensity to McCourt's writing, a remarkable ability to discover within the most concrete details a rich and raw emotion...a novel that is at once very familiar and entirely fresh.' Weekend Australian '[The Lost Child] reminds me of the quality of Ruth Park's writing in evoking the strengths and weaknesses of a small community...and the tragedies and humour amongst the everyday...A multi-layered novel with symbolism which stays with you after the last page. A significant writer with compassion. Highly recommended for adult and YA readers.' -- Hazel Edwards 'This book's simple-seeming title gets more complex as it becomes apparent that there is more than one candidate for the role, and that "lost" can mean different things...the story is set south of the Coorong and that dramatic and sometimes eerie landscape is evoked with clarity and tenderness.' Age/Sydney Morning Herald/Canberra Times 'A wonderful first novel...gripping and at times heart wrenching...will keep you turning the pages.' -- The Big Book Club 'Debut novelist McCourt steers clear of feyness to produce an account that is notable for its freshness, vividly drawn characters and atmospheric setting...McCourt's is a name to note.' Daily Mail 'The Lost Child is a haunting tale of family life, identity and coming-of-age from an author who writes with a vivid sense of time and place.' Launceston Examiner

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Customer reviews

The Lost Child is the first novel by Australian author, Suzanne McCourt. When Sylvie Meehan is almost five, she is living in the small fishing village of Burley Point on the southern coast of Australia, with her Mum, Nella, her Dad Mick and her older brother Dunc. Soon, she'll be going to school, but just now she wishes her Dad loved her as much as he loves Dunc, and that her Mum and Dad could get on a bit better. She knows that her Dad doesn't talk to Uncle Ticker, that he won't go out to see Grandma Meehan on the property, Bindilla, but she's not sure exactly why. She knows Aunt Cele loves Burley Point, but people are critical of the way she lives. Burley Point is a small town and she knows lots of the people there: nothing stays a secret for long. As Sylvie grows up, there are many changes she doesn't like: Dad goes to live across the lagoon with the Trollop, Layle Lewis; Dunc is sent away to boarding school in the city; Mum takes a job at the cafe to make ends meet; Sylvie gets good marks at school but she hates when her classmates gossip and call her names, although her teacher, Miss Taylor, is always nice to her. But the worst thing is when Dunc goes missing, because Sylvie's sure she is to blame. In her narration, Sylvie guilelessly relates events, incidents, her own thoughts and conversations and exchanges overheard, occasionally misinterpreting from her youthful perspective, thus slowly building for the reader a picture of the people around her and her life in this small town. Some ten years after the start of her narration, when much in her life has changed, Sylvie ponders :"What's so good about the truth if it's more awful than a lie?" McCourt establishes the era with references to Royal visits, movies, songs, comics and crazes, giving the novel a truly authentic feel. Readers may feel some nostalgia for dinking, riding in the back of the ute, the circus coming to town, buttered Saos, hula hoops, bride dolls, wagging school, 4711 and Phantom comics, although probably not for school sores, the effects of Thalidomide and the practice of routine tonsillectomy. The attitude to divorce and "New Australians", six o'clock closing and evangelist rallies are also hallmarks of a bygone era. The reader is treated to some beautiful prose: "Blue has gone. His chain lies under the pines like a silver snake. On the lawn, the sprinkler hisses around like a buzzy wasp." and "A flock of silvereyes fly out of the pines. They drop over the lagoon like a lacy cloth." An outstanding debut novel and a very moving read.show more
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