Hello! Welcome to the first of my book reviews! I can’t promise you that these will be regular posts because, despite my best intentions, my ability to get through books promptly depends upon the demands of family and life.
On our recent holiday to Port Douglas, I bought Guilt by Matt Nable at the lovely Whileaway Bookstore, our regular spot for holiday morning coffees. I picked it up because it looked pretty readable – perfect for a holiday – and I’m a bit fascinated by Matt Nable. I love that a former elite rugby player – not that I’m a fan of rugby! – can also be a fab actor and writer. I know – I have to let go of stereotypes! Despite my holiday speed reading, I didn’t manage to get to it whilst we were away. Fortunately, my first impressions of its readability proved correct and I managed to I knock it over within a week, which is pretty good for me when in non-holiday mode!
The novel explores the lives of five teens, Tommy, Paul, Chris, Lani and Julia, and their parents. We see these characters as they were in 1989 and then twenty years later in 2009 by way of alternating chapters. We learn at the start of the novel that Tommy has been in prison but it is not until the last chapter of the book, the last page, that we understand why. This is one aspect of the ‘guilt’ that gives the novel its title but the other characters, too, are all burdened by guilt in aspects of their lives – not the prison worthy guilt of Tommy but the bad behaviour, betrayal, shameful type of guilt. The novel also explores poor decision making, the surrounding circumstances which may give rise to this and how these ill-thought out decisions can continue to have an impact upon us throughout our lives.
It took me a little while to keep track of ‘who was who’ as each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the ten or so significant characters in the book and because of the shifting time frame. I felt that the characters were well drawn and believable, and the writing spare and simple but evocative. Nable captures well the emotional turmoil of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood and their relationships with their parents. I’m not sure of your sensibilities as a reader but there is a bit of descriptive sex-y stuff in the novel which you may not bat an eyelid at, or you may be like my mum who declares herself ‘not a prude’ but really is a bit confronted by anything that is more than suggestive! And that’s fine! Just thought I’d let you know!
The Iris and Edie recommendation for Guilt is a thumbs up! I’d pop it in the 3.5-4 out of 5 category. Have you read it? Do you think you’d like to give it a go? I’d love to hear your thoughts.