Australian author Nicole Trope is a former high school teacher with a Masters in Children’s Literature and four published novels to her name. I’d heard of her but not read any of her work when her latest book arrived for my reading pleasure. And… you don’t need to wait in suspense until after the ad break for the verdict… it was most definitely a pleasure.
A celebrity wife. A damaged young woman. How did they both end up in prison and what is the secret they share? White-knuckle reading from the queen of domestic suspense.
Trope has provided her readers with two very different narrators in this delicious and delicate tale. She had no need to label her chapters as her characters’ voices are as disparate as their lives.
Thirty-three (33) year old Birdy’s learning difficulties are never really named, but we get a lot of insight into the impact they’ve had on her life. Her mother’s constantly struggled to contain her frustration with her daughter’s dependence; while sibling Lila does everything in her power to protect her fragile older sister.
Rose, unlike Birdy, had the world at her feet when (as a 15 year old) she met 31 year old aspiring actor, Simon. She gave up her dream of college, left home, married at 16 and became mother at 17. Now at 55, although wealthy, she’s widowed as a result of her own actions and is a doting grandmother.
We learn of the women’s connection early in the novel; and the event that sets Birdy on her course for retribution is fairly obvious—long before she shares it with us. Of more interest however, is how the two characters went from the Rose and Fliss (Birdy) we meet in the 1980s and those in the low-security prison almost thirty years later.
Being privy to the minds of both Birdy and Rose is a treat.
I was particularly enamoured by Birdy’s thought processes and her childlike (and very literal) way of viewing the world. It’s as if her mind is forever frozen in time as the innocent five year old girl she once was. And I couldn’t help but wonder if her developmental difficulties were as much psychological as physiological.
Meanwhile, Rose is finally coming into her own after over thirty years of dedicating her life to her husband and family.
It’s almost as if their emotional growth was stifled from the moment they met the enigmatic Simon, and now both are finally realising they’re stronger and more resilient than they think.
Trope expertly unpicks at the edges of the plot so it unfolds slowly and elegantly. You know’s coming but aren’t sure how you’ll all get there. Of course, if you’re like me you get so involved you feel impotent—frustrated you can’t do anything to prevent the
oncoming onslaught tragic chain of events.
Hush Little Bird by Nicole Trope, is a beautiful (contemporary) novel about innocence, regret and revenge. It’s published by Allen & Unwin and will be available from 24 June 2015.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.