This book was nothing like I thought it would be. I don’t know quite what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting a political thriller, a rather hum-drum love story and too many of my own political opinions stuffed down my throat. It does, however, raise questions about political expediency in a time of climate crisis while, rather unfortunately, ramping up anti-Chinese rhetoric.
The book is set in the near future, and a beautifully designed, two billion dollar bridge connecting Bruny Island and mainland Tasmania has just exploded. With an election on the horizon, the Chinese consortium funding the bridge receives clearance to bring in Chinese workers to ensure that the bridge meets its opening date schedule. Astrid Coleman, the sister of both the Tasmanian Premier ‘JC’ and (rather implausibly) also of the Tasmanian Opposition Leader Max, is summoned home to liaise between the pro- and anti- bridge lobby groups and, to a lesser extent, find out who sabotaged the bridge and why.
This professional summons by her brother is matched by the personal summons of family, with her father succumbing to dementia by quoting apposite slabs of Shakespeare and her mother in the last stages of cancer. She has a difficult relationship with her mother -and near the end of the book we learn why – and despite the different political allegiances of her siblings, she loves them both.
This near-future world is a plausible extrapolation of our own. A Trump-like US president has won a second term, there is a King on the throne in England and climate change is wreaking its own ongoing crisis. But I found the banging of the present-day political drum through Astrid’s first-person observations too blatant and too instrusive, even though they match my own. Who knows what I would have thought of them had I been on the other side of the political divide. Moreover, I suspect that many of the celebrity-culture references will date badly. I found the political scenario, when it was finally revealed, to be rather implausible, but nonetheless interesting to contemplate.
The descriptions of scenery are really well written, and Rose captures well the sense of love that place can engender in us. But the whole book felt a little too ‘Womens Weekly Good Read’ for me – although that I doubt that it would earn a gold sticker from that august publication on account of its political stance. But overall, the book felt rather too much like someone shouting at the television. I can do that for myself: I don’t need my books to do it for me.
My rating: 7/10
Sourced from: Yarra Plenty Regional Library.