I have discovered a beaut new Aussie author, thanks to Angela Meyer’s Literary Minded blog. Darkness of the Edge of Town is an emotionally gripping tale that seduced me away from the IFFP titles I’m supposed to be reading, one of those books that you pick up just to have ‘a quick look’, and soon find yourself so utterly absorbed that all thoughts of the other book are entirely forgotten.
It begins with Vincent’s discovery of a young girl beside the road. She has crashed the car and is cradling a baby.
Vincent is nearly forty, and he’s been around a bit with women. A single parent, he has a 16-year-old daughter called Gemma at home and although his place is a bit of shambles and he has a dead-end job, he’s not doing a bad job of bringing her up. He and Gemma narrate the story of this young woman’s fragile state and how he comes to give her shelter when she needs it. There are complex moral issues that arise out of his growing affection for the emotionally disturbed woman whose age is not revealed until late in the tale.
The story takes place in a perfectly realised remote small town – which gives Vincent a false sense of security. Fragile, damaged Rachel was in flight when she stumbled into their lives, and Vincent’s belief that he can protect her from further harm is naïve.
The author is in firm control of her characters, contrasting Vincent’s tentative optimism and sense of responsibility with Gemma’s confusion about this strange situation and her own tentative steps towards teenage relationships.
Like Karen Foxlee’s The Midnight Dress, this novel crosses over with Young Adult fiction, but is satisfying reading for adults too.
Now I’ll get back to reading A Death in the Family!
Author: Jessie Cole
Title: Darkness of the Edge of Town
Publisher: Fourth Estate (Harper Collins), 2012
Source: Kingston Library
Fishpond: Darkness on the Edge of Town