|Courtesy Allen & Unwin
In Book of Lost Threads, the debut novel from Melbourne author Tess Evans, we take a journey from guilt and despair to the world of possibility and opportunity.
Book of Lost Threads
When Moss (Miranda Ophelia Sinclair) goes searching for the father she has never met, her quest takes her to a small Australian town with the unusual name of Opportunity.
The town has seen better days and is not unlike many real towns today that have served a purpose, be in mining or agriculture, and the majority of the population have moved on, ironically to find better opportunities.
It is in Opportunity, however, where the bulk of the story unfolds and where we are introduced to an interesting bunch of eccentric characters that drive the narrative.
Characters in Book of Lost Threads
The four main characters in the book are mismatched but it is the common bond that they share that weaves them together. Each is dealing, in their own way, with the loss of someone in their lives and the guilt associated with actions that they regret, words never expressed and risks not taken.
Moss is the child of a lesbian couple and as a young woman is coming to terms with being the result of a sperm donation. Her father Michael Finbar Clancy (or Finn) is a reclusive mathematician who has spent so long on his own that he no longer knows how to interact normally with his daughter. He has still not recovered from his involvement in a fatal car accident and this is his demon to confront.
Into the mix is thrown the priceless Mrs Lily Pargetter who was widowed from a young age and has spent her years knitting tea cosies for the United Nations. She is a crusty yet loveable character who is honoured for “reaffirming faith in the dignity and worth of the human person.” This line is borrowed from the Charter of the United Nations Preamble and author Evans’ use of this highlights how each of us can make a difference, even if it is small.
Mrs Pargetter’s nephew George “Sandy” Sandilands is at first awkward and dislikeable with grand plans to build one of the big icons that Australia is known for – this one is the “great galah”. Sandy grows with the novel as he comes to terms with guilt from his childhood of not standing up to his father, a perpetrator of domestic violence. And the galah plans change for the better.
Issues in Book of Lost Threads
There are a host of issues crammed into this book and they are all big: being the child of a gay marriage and the product of a sperm donation; loss of a child, parent and partner; causing the death of another; domestic violence; living in the shadow of guilt and self-forgiveness to name just a few.
Many of these issues are not often tackled in literature and Evans has done a commendable job in addressing them all with sensitivity, grace and a touch of humour.
About Tess Evans
Tess Evans resides in Melbourne, Australia and is the previous author of short stories and poetry but Book of Lost Threads is her first novel. She has spent many years working in the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) sector and attributes dealing with people from all walks of life to draw upon for the flavour in her stories.
Book of Lost Threads
by Tess Evans (Allen & Unwin, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-74237-233-4, 350 pages.)
My rating: ★★★★