Leap by Myfanwy Jones is a novel that explores the effects of grief and how we heal after the devastating, unexpected loss of a loved one. For Joe, the loss is that of his girlfriend, whom he loved with all the intensity we would expect from someone beginning to navigate the world of romantic relationships. For Elise, the loss is that of her daughter, a loss which creates an aching longing in her heart and shakes the stability of her marriage. Joe and Elise each find different avenues through which to channel their grief: for Joe, it is parkour; for Elise, it is spending an hour a week at the zoo, observing and sketching the tigers. For both of them, it seems that these pastimes force them to contemplate their own mortality. A poorly executed leap by Joe and he could die, whilst Elise contemplates being mauled by the tigers and joining her daughter in death.
Jones has drawn her characters deftly. Their grief is recognisable and understandable but they are not suffering cliched expressions of grief. They are searching for ways to redeem themselves for the parts they feel they have played in the death of the their loved ones and are trying to find a new purpose in their lives. Her writing is simple yet evocative and perceptive. The texts Elise receives from her husband during their separation are ‘like a measured does of medicine for their marital disease’ and, one of my favourites, ‘…the leafless plane trees like great wooden hands, petitioning the clouds, bearing witness to Indrah’s distress.’ What a wonderful image!
Leap is a satisfying read. It deals with death and grief but not in a maudlin way. It offers the reader a sense of hope and redemption. Melbourne readers will love its setting around the inner northern and bayside suburbs. I think it is a novel worthy of being put on the ‘to read’ list.