Indelible Ink by Fiona McGregor

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Courtesy Scribe Publication

What Christos Tsiolkas did
for Melbourne in his Booker-longlisted novel The Slap, Fiona McGregor has mirrored for Sydney in her latest
novel Indelible Ink.
Both thought-provoking books
take an uncomfortable in-your-face look at a side of Australian society that is
not pretty. Fitting then that Tsiolkas rates McGregor amongst his favourite
Australian authors.
About Indelible Ink
When 59-year-old Marie King
finds herself in financial difficulty she realises that she must sell her
beloved Sirius Cove; a house overlooking the water in the affluent north shore
area of Mosman, Sydney.
Recently divorced after a
lifetime as the wife of an advertising executive, Marie is at a crossroad where
she has no way to define herself; no money, no husband, no career.  All she has is her beloved house and garden
which she must now give up.
Following an indulgent
luncheon with her friend Susan at which she drinks far too much wine yet again,
Marie finds herself in a tattoo parlour in the seedier side of Sydney.
She gets a tattoo and her
eyes open to a new world. She forges a friendship with tattoo artist Rhys who
is a mother, a lesbian and without a doubt one the nicest character in the
novel.
Marie’s two worlds collide
as she continues to seek solace in her time under the pen with Rhys and tend to
her three grown-up children Clark, Blanche and Leon who are all coming to terms
with the sale of their childhood home in their own way.
Marie’s circle does not
understand her reasons for the tattoos, nor do they particular like the
newly-liberated side of their mother and friend. She is no longer the
conservative middle-aged woman they know. No-one except Rhys really understands
her need for a sense of self.
Characters in Indelible Ink
After a luxury-filled lifetime
of parties, drinking and gardening, it is hard to relate and sympathise with
the character Marie.
She has more warmth for her
aging cat Mopoke than for her children and her friends. But take a closer look
and there is a woman who has spent most of her life fulfilling the needs of
those around her.  But is that her own
fault or just what being a good mother, wife and friend entails?
Without giving the rest of
the story away, let’s just say our understanding of Marie deepens as the novel
progresses until we come to side with her and wish her well.
Apart from the tattoo artist
Rhys and the huge Samoan Brian, Indelible Ink is filled with characters that
are hard to like, never alone love. Reading about their privileged lives, quest
to have more (of everything) and selfishness is uncomfortable and shows a side
of Australian life that unfortunately exists.
About Fiona McGregor
Fiona McGregor is the author
of three other works of fiction and a travel memoir: Au Pair, Suck My Toes, Chemical
Palace and Strange Museums. She has won numerous awards and much acclaim with
her work and in 1997 was voted one of the inaugural Best Young Novelists by the
Sydney Morning Herald.
Indelible Ink (Scribe Publications, Melbourne, 2010, ISBN: 9781921215964, 452 pages)
My rating: ★★★

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