In brief: The River House is where the Carlyle family take their holidays on a wild shore. But it’s also where the undercurrents in the family come to the fore…
The good: The writing is lyrical and evocative.
The not-so-good: A little slow at times.
Why I chose it: Thank you to Random House Australia for the eARC.
Publisher: Random House
My rating: 7 out of 10
On beginning The River House by Janita Cunnington, I knew I was in for a treat. The prose enveloped me straight away – it’s lyrical, rhythmic and oddly soothing. Reminiscent of Tim Winton, her writing is stylish and evokes strong images. There’s also something just so Australian about the story and it was a pleasure to read it during a hot Aussie summer.
The story revolves around the Carlyle family, who spend their summers at The River House, a shack outside the country town of Baroodibah. It’s a typical Aussie holiday house – a dunny (toilet) down the back, no electricity and in the wilds. The story begins as Laurie is a small child, and then follows through the years as the children grow up and secrets are no more…
I could practically smell the bush as I was reading The River House and hear the crickets, birds and other bush sounds. I loved the descriptions most. I do enjoy a good family story too and here The River House didn’t disappoint. The secrets and volatility were great to read.
But…sometimes I felt the narrative slowed to almost a standstill and it was difficult to maintain my attention. I’d find myself watching TV instead or reaching for the iPad. Other times, I felt like it had rushed through things and I’d be wondering what I’d missed (had I fallen asleep? Hit the next page on my eReader 10 times instead of once?) I’m also not big on politics so sometimes I’d skim when Tony went off on one of his tangents. (I can get that from my own family!)
I think The River House would be a good novel for book clubs as there is certainly plenty to discuss. I think that there would be a lot of differing opinions on the characters and the decisions they made which would make for lively discussion! For me, I’d probably take a look at future books by Janita Cunnington. Her style of writing is beautiful.