I very much enjoyed Days of Innocence and Wonder by Lucy Treloar. It was unexpected in some ways. The backcover blurb made it sound like the kind of mystery I like to read, but it was deeper and more thought-provoking than I expected. A well-told story of loss, grief and guilt and what happens if they’re left to fester.
Days of Innocence and Wonder
by Lucy Treloar
Published by Picador Australia
Genres: General Fiction, Literary Fiction
All her life, Till has lived in the shadow of the abduction of a childhood friend and her tormented wondering about whether she could have stopped it.
When Till, now twenty-three, senses danger approaching again, she flees her past and the hovering presence of her fearful parents. In Wirowie, a town on its knees, she stops and slowly begins creating a new life and home. But there is something menacing here too. Till must decide whether she can finally face down, even pursue, the darkness - or whether she'll flee once more and never stop running.
The book opens just as Till decides to hit the road. She’s had some success in music so has some money squirrelled away but she’s withdrawn from life, never having fully recovered after her friend was snatched away nearly two decades earlier. She’s been living with her parents during COVID and often reflects back on those two years of lockdowns. I’m reminded I felt as it COVID levelled the playing field. I was working from home before the arrival of the pandemic and lockdowns. I’d been working from home (alone) for eight of the ten years since my seachange, and suddenly everyone else was forced into the same situation. It felt like we became better people for a while. Supportive of one another. Empathetic. For me, despite the pandemic, the world felt safe. Things were on hold. Until they weren’t…
And now, lockdowns are over and Till senses danger, so she runs…. somewhere.
No one was there to save Till or decide where to go next. Was it the beginning of the journey or almost done? If she were to tell someone that the land was yellow and of a severe horizontality, and the sky was blue, they would not understand that its beauty was sometimes tiring and her eyes deeded to rest. She pulled off the road and had a nap. Then she could go on again. But she was tired of circling and making decisions and finding somewhere each night – tired of trying to sense danger and safety. p 13
Once Till stumbles across the old railway station in Wirowie and decides to stay, the pace of the book settles into something very comfortable and oddly satisfying. There’s a sense that – in this place in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by strangers – Till starts to find herself again. (And all is, or will be, well.)
This is beautifully written by Treloar and Till’s a complex and deeply drawn character. The relationships she develops in Wirowie are both tentative and encompassing and she slowly learns of the town’s secrets and present troubles – which unfortunately bring her past trauma to the fore.
This is the first book I’ve read by Treloar but I’ll certainly be seeking out more. This was a thoughtful story. One of growth and healing. There’s some social commentary but it’s not heavy-handed, and this whole story is also imbued with strong sense of place. Treloar’s prose and the narrative are ponderous… in a good way. Treloar and Till had me hooked and there I remained until the end, when the pace picks up again as the past is resolved.
Days of Innocence and Wonder by Lucy Treloar was published by Picador (Pan Macmillan Australia) and now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.