Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 18, 2012

Sensational Snippets: The Longing (2012), by Candice Bruce

The LongingI am reading The Longing, the debut novel of Candice Bruce, a former art historian and academic, and enjoying it very much.

This is part of the blurb at Fishpond:

In Australia in the 1840s, the lives of two very different women intersect. Ellis MacRorie is shipped to Victoria from her Scottish homeland by her bankrupt father; Leerpeen Weelan, her Aboriginal servant known as Louisa, has lost her tribe in a bloody act of violence.

In this poignant excerpt,  Leerpen (renamed Louisa by her white masters and about to be sent away as a domestic servant), is being forcibly separated from her child, and must calm her somehow:

Louisa had searched in her dillybag for the small pieces of skin she had cut from the edge of her cloak.  She’d cut right through the middle of a red ochre spiral on one corner of her cloak and she pulled them out of her dilly and showed the child how the two sides of the spiral fitted together to make one whole.  ‘See this?’ she had said to Thookay.  The spiral was the journey they had taken together.  It was the story of their survival.  It could not end, their journey, not while the two pieces were apart.  One day they would be together and the spiral would be complete once more.  The child’s howling quietened to tears.  ‘You see? One piece for you, one piece for me,’ she’d told her.  ‘You keep it with you and know I am your mother.’  She showed her the corner of the skin from where the pieces had been cut.  ‘One day I’ll sew ’em back into this cloak and we’ll be together.  You be good now and do as you are told.’

Thookay had held the fur to her cheek and rubbed it against her skin.  Louisa had told her to put it in her pocket, to hide it, to keep it safe, and to keep it with her.  ‘You don’t let no one take it from you,’ she’d said.  ‘Remember.  One day I’ll come for you.’

from The Longing, by Candice Bruce,  Vintage (Random House), 2012, p 127

Availability: Fishpond
The Longing

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