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A Stolen Season by Rodney Hall
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A Stolen Season

by Rodney Hall

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811,582,778 (4.5)1
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MILES FRANKLIN LITERARY AWARD 2019Rodney Hall, two-times winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, presents the story of three people experiencing a period of life they never thought possible, and, perhaps, should never have been granted at all.Adam's life has been ruined by war . . . A veteran of the Iraq conflict who has suffered such extensive bodily trauma that he can only really survive by means of a mechanical skeleton.Marianna's has been ruined by men . . . A woman who has had to flee the country after her husband lied to the wrong people.John Philip's by too much money . . . Until he receives a surprise inheritance in the evening of his own life. PRAISE FOR A STOLEN SEASON "a triumph of daring and narrative skill, the more remarkable because it comes towards the end of a long career that has been marked by both patience and flair." Sydney Morning Herald"A Stolen Season is his [Hall's] first novel in more than a decade and it is worth the wait." Australian Financial ReviewPRAISE FOR RODNEY HALL"Reminiscent of both Joyce and Garcia Marquez" Washington Post"Magnificent. So good that you wish you had written it yourself" Salman Rushdie"A wondrous blend of the fabulous and the surreal" The Australian… (more)

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What I’ve always loved about Rodney Hall AM is that he’s a writer of social conscience. If you check out his Twitter feed @rhallwriter you can see that he cares passionately about social issues and he turns that concern into books that are invariably very good to read even when they expose difficult truths that we’d rather not confront. A Stolen Season is no exception.

For most of the novel it seems as if there are three separate stories, all focussing on how people resurrect some control in their meaningless lives when fate gives them the opportunity. The main characters are:
*Adam, a grievously wounded Iraq veteran, and his wife Bridget, and how they struggle to come to terms with what’s happened. Their marriage was dead when he enlisted and now Bridget is trapped in the role of carer. Adam is riddled with guilt about that, knowing that he should let her have her freedom, but afraid to let her go. The intricacies of this fraught relationship are brilliantly depicted and very thought-provoking. For both of them, the question is, what could make life worth living;
*Marion Gluck, a wealthy woman on the run because of her husband’s perfidy. She attempts to take control of her life again by pursuing a bizarre quest in remote Belize in South America; and
*John Philip, a very rich man at the end of a long and powerful dynasty, who finds a way to use a bequest in a way that shows his contempt for the values of his family.

These threads do all come together at the end, but I think most readers will focus on the tragedy of Adam and Bridget’s lives because it is utterly compelling, and because it forms the bulk of the story. (I completely forgot about Marian until she resurfaced near the end of the book and to be honest, I think the book could have done without these side stories, though there would have to be a bit of plot-tweaking to get rid of them).

Anyway…

As the book progresses Hall reveals the full extent of Adam’s injuries from the explosion in Iraq but the detail is delivered in Adam’s flip tone, which lightens the horror a little:
Ogling reporters descend, eager to secure his ordeal as public property. The only way out is up. Declared fit for discharge he finds himself winched like some treasured relic to take his place in a museum of the grotesque. Spectators lean so close a man can’t breathe in the enveloping depth of their amazement. Crowded out by the humorous intimacy of noses – pitted with pixilated pores and thrust his way – he would laugh if he could. But instead of lungs he has these red hot pincers. He’ll have to put off seeing the bright side till later. (p.6)

And then…

Adam’s first glimpse of Bridget coincides with her first sight of him. The door to the airbridge opens just long enough for a shock of recognition on both sides. His wheelchair glides though an arc of light bent to the curve of the slab-glass walls, but he has already seen her face contorted with horror as she hides her feelings against her shoulder. Meanwhile the pilot and first officer insist on thanking him for flying with them. Courtesies must be observed and they shake hands with his remaining fingers. This gives Bridget just enough time to collect her courage so, when the chair spins his vision in reverse through the same dazzling reflections, she composes herself and steps his way. (p.6-7)

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/05/17/a-stolen-season-by-rodney-hall-bookreview/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | May 17, 2018 |
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