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Entitlement by Jessica White


by Jessica White

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Thoughtful novel about land/country and the challenge of reconciling indigenous attachment/ relationship to the land with that of farmers. For my full review, please see Whispering Gums: http://whisperinggums.com/2015/03/15/jessica-white-entitlement-review/ ( )
  minerva2607 | Mar 15, 2015 |
Entitlement explores the grief, bitterness and anger of loss and estrangement. Eight years ago Eliot went missing and now his sister, Cate McConville, refuses to allow her parents to sell the family property while a chance remains that her brother may one day come home.

Cate's obsession with her brother's disappearance has had a detrimental affect on every facet of her life. While I was sympathetic to her overwhelming sense of loss, I found her largely selfish, cold and bitter. Her lack of empathy for others, particularly her mother, is disturbing, though perhaps is more understandable in terms of her relationship with her father. Only the glimpses of Cate as a child and teen showing her close bond with her brother offer some sense of redemption, yet even then, there is a subtle current of self centeredness in their relationship. I found I grew increasingly frustrated by Cate failure to acknowledge her own contribution to the dysfunctional family dynamics.

The relationships within this family are central to this story. Cate's father, Blake, is almost wholly unlikeable. Though I did feel some pity for him because of his current physical pain, I was appalled by his racism and his attitude towards his daughter. Nora, Cate's mother, seems weak in the face of the behaviour of her husband and daughter. Elliot largely remains an enigma through out the novel with only Cate's memories giving him life. He has been missing eight years when the novel begins, simply walking away one morning with no further trace. What specifically kept me reading Entitlement was my desire to know Eliot's fate and I found I developed several theories as to why Eliot would disappear as the novel progressed.

Loss is the major theme of Entitlement explored not only within the McConville family, but also within the indigenous mob that lives on the fringes of the family property. Mellor, the McConville family's longtime farmhand, has a family history defined by loss, from the loss of his tribe's native land and culture to the forcible removal of aboriginal children from their parents. This element is a significant aspect of the story.

Told in the third person, at times I found the way the narrative segues from the present to memory with little warning disconcerting. The pace of the novel is measured yet White skillfully sustains the suspense throughout the story, despite the lack of urgency in the plot. I thought the tone stylish with evocative descriptions of the Australian landscape and it's people.

Though there is closure for the McConvilles's, and Mellor's mob, there is no happy ending. Entitlement is a profound, sober novel that I found thought provoking and interesting. ( )
  shelleyraec | Aug 23, 2012 |
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Ten years after the mysterious disappearance of her much-loved brother Eliot, Cate McConville finally returns to her family farm only to discover that her ageing parents want to sell up and sever her only remaining link to him. Torn between her childhood memories and the present, Cate reconnects with an indigenous employee of her father's, Mellor, and meets Finchley, a man desperately in pursuit of her. But both men have memories of their own to hide.… (more)

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