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Bloodlines by Nicole Sinclair


by Nicole Sinclair

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Bloodlines is a sensual novel, and an homage to a love that transcends the everyday. The debut novel of WA author Nicole Sinclair, it was shortlisted for the 2014 TAG Hungerford Award. That’s an award designed to encourage debut authors with not only some cash but with the all-important publishing contract (with Fremantle Arts Centre Press) and it’s launched the careers of authors reviewed on my blog, such as Brenda Walker (1990), Gail Jones (1991), Simone Lazaroo (1993), Alice Nelson (2006), Natasha Lester (2008), Jacqueline Wright (2010) and Robert Edeson (2012). Wisely, other publishers keep an eye on the shortlisted authors, and Margaret River Press has picked up Bloodlines and added it to their list.

The artwork on the cover is called ‘Scribbly Gum Leaf’ and it’s from a wall installation by Meredith Woolnough. (You can see it here). Created with embroidery thread, this image is a clever allusion to entwined lives and the primacy of the environment that shapes us. Beth is a thirty-one-year-old whose life is in a mess, and for the first time, the loving home environment of her father Clem’s farm in the WA wheatbelt isn’t enough to help her emerge from trauma. She takes what is meant to be a short break with her Aunt Val on a small island in Papua New Guinea, and finds herself immersed in the complexities of a culture very different to her own.

The 3rd person omniscient narration brings shifting perspectives from the present and the not-too-distant past. Loss permeates everything the characters do, but Beth has to learn to transcend it as her father has done with the loss of his much-loved wife Rose, and as Aunt Val has, in adopting a philosophical attitude to lost opportunity and making a satisfying new life as a teacher in PNG. The reader is not told until late in the novel about what has happened to traumatise Beth, only that she can’t come to terms with what happened to Sam, and it also takes a good while before Clem and Val’s losses are explained too. The focus is not so much on the events of the past but rather on their permanence in the psyche of the present, but the narrative tension is maintained by the reader’s desire to find out what had actually happened to Sam, to Rose, and to Aunt Val’s arrested love life.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/02/25/bloodlines-by-nicole-sinclair/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Feb 24, 2017 |
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