Helen Fitzgerald (Allen & Unwin) 2015, 320pp, RRP $24.99
Former social worker Fitzgerald’s fifth novel is a ‘domestic suspense’ drama which might be labelled ‘Young Adult’, and yet surely it’s too dark and frightening to properly fit into that would-be genre.
Catherine is a 23-year-old Scottish slacker whose Mum forces her to get a job (and a grip), and Catherine soon finds herself employed in a home for the elderly, where she meets Rose, an 82-year-old famed author of children’s books whose dementia means that she keeps reverting to a tragedy suffered when she was 10. The selfish Catherine, whose life is all about Facebook, deliberately terminated romances and endlessly defying her mother, finds herself intrigued when Rose starts telling her about strange events and what might be going on in the unoccupied Room 7, but as Rose is wandering in her mind can what she claims be taken seriously? And what will Catherine do when Fitzgerald’s many plot twists start to take painful effect?
Compulsively readable, this is drawn from some of the author’s own terrible experiences, which accounts for the authentic and compassionate edge, but there’s also a surprisingly uncomfortable aspect here, and the final act is undeniably gripping – and even disturbing.
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