Book review: Clarke by Holly Throsby

Sunday, November 13, 2022 Permalink

Clarke by Holly Throsby was inspired by the high-profile disappearance of a woman (Lynette Dawson) in Australia in the early 1980s. Although the book is centred around the police’s sudden search for the body in the yard of the house in which the fictional Ginny Lawson used to live with her husband, it’s the impact that search has on the house’s new resident and neighbours that makes this a powerful and (ultimately) somewhat poignant read.

Book review: Clarke by Holly ThrosbyClarke
by Holly Throsby
Published by Allen & Unwin
on 01/11/2022
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: General Fiction, Literary Fiction
ISBN: 9781760878740
Pages: 416

On a hot morning in 1991 in the regional town of Clarke, Barney Clarke (no relation) is woken by the unexpected arrival of many policemen: they are going to search his backyard for the body of a missing woman.

Next door, Leonie Wallace and little Joe watch the police cars through their kitchen window. Leonie has been waiting for this day for six years. She is certain that her friend - Ginny Lawson - is buried in that backyard under a slab of suspicious concrete.

But the fate of Ginny Lawson is not the only mystery in Clarke. Barney lives alone in a rented house with a ring on his finger, but where is Barney's wife? Leonie lives with four-year-old Joe, but where is Joe's mother?

Throsby uses the disappearance (and potential recovery) of Ginny Lawson as the backdrop of this novel. It’s the reminder of her disappearance and frustrations (feelings of impotence) from that time that has Ginny’s neighbour and former friend Leonie grieving anew, and not just for her friend. Rather it’s the culmination of losses, including regrets, Leonie has about her own life.

And then there’s Barney, renting the house that Ginny and her husband once owned. As the police dig up his backyard it’s as if they’re unearthing memories of his own as he’s confronted by the loss of his own family and feelings of love and rejection.

I loved this as it’s a reminder that support can come in unlikely places and from unlikely sources. That sometimes just telling someone our story helps free us from our past.

It’s a reminder to let go of regrets and festering anger and to find joy and happiness where and when we can as it can be fleeting. More tragically – or cynically perhaps – it’s also a reminder that we shouldn’t lose ourselves in relationships with others – with our parents or partners or children.

I very much enjoyed this novel by Throsby who does a wonderful job at eking out these tragic stories while at the same time offering a glimmer of hope.

Clarke by Holly Throsby was published in Australia by  and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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