I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

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I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A young girl falls in with the wrong crowd, twice, with devastating consequences for her children. This is unputdownable fiction with a surprise in every chapter.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Arrow
ISBN: 978-0099584766

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Sometimes when you have clear expectations of a book based on its blurb, and then you get an utterly different story, it can be frustrating. While I think ‘misleading’ is too strong a word for it, I really could not have predicted the story of this book from what I read on the back cover. It sounded like an excellent story about a baby snatched from a hospital ward but instead it was…an excellent story about something else entirely.

Donna-Faye is the third child to be born in the Atley family. She’s a fair bit younger than her brother and sister, and her mum is barely around, but the bond between her and her father, Med, is clear. Med is the one telling the story here, and what a story it is. Donna-Faye is not a well girl, not well at all, and Med is trying to explain why.

This is a family drama of the highest order. The Atleys may not be that typical in many respects, but they are a family, and they look out for their own. When Donna-Faye starts to get into troubling situations, Med does everything he can to try to help. But Donna-Faye is not that easy to understand. She does things that are unpredictable, inconsistent and dangerous. She puts herself and others at risk and fails to understand the consequences of her actions.

This is a fascinating piece of Australian fiction that I was thoroughly engrossed by. I didn’t have a clue where it was going, and this is clearly a deliberate ploy with lots of red herrings or cases of misunderstanding early on, but I could not have enjoyed it more.

Med is a rambler. He’s not inarticulate but he’s also not academic, and the result is a book that has a unique writing style. Some may find it grates, but I thought it endearing as it means you never forget what sort of people you’re dealing with. When Kat takes over the narration temporarily, the difference is startling. An educated lawyer who has travelled the world, she is eloquent and objective in her accounts, though her passion for Savannah is undeniable. The style of writing really made the book for me. The whole story is an account of Donna-Faye’s life, from her father’s perspective, and the style is relaxed, informal, not your usual literary offering. You certainly get the feeling someone’s talking to you then and there, rather than you’re reading their offering that they drafted some time before. It feels in the moment, and I kept urging Med on, willing him to get to the point.

I enjoyed the setting of the book because I’ve worked in hospitals in Sydney so lots of it was familiar to me, but if you’re after a book of sun and surf and Ozzie lifestyles then you won’t find it here. These are not people who put another shrimp on the barbie – in fact, the only BBQ mentioned is at the hands of the refugees, not the natives.

It loses a fraction of a star for a few minor inaccuracies (like confusing Registrar and Consultant grades in a hospital) and for the blurb, because for all I massively enjoyed the book, I did feel a bit like I’d bought a bag marked apples only to get it home and find it contained oranges instead.

Highly recommended in spite of this, I already have a stack of friends queuing up to borrow this one.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

Australian fiction is really doing it for me at the moment. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty also gets two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Buy I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington at Amazon.com.


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