When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett
|When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Heart-achingly beautiful, lyrically divine story of a little Aussie girl, a Danish merchant seaman, moments from their lives and the indelible print that they leave. No words or description could do this justice; in fact if I won the lottery I'd consider buying you each a copy. You deserve it!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: November 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Little Isla has moved to Hobart, Tasmania from the Australian mainland with her mother and younger brother. Bo is a chef on the Nella Dan, a Danish ship supplying the Antarctic expeditions. Their meeting is just one of life's little moments that carry a greater effect than anyone realises at the time, whether for the better or the worst.
Australian author Favel Parrett's first novel Past the Shallows is an award winning, rave-worthy triumph which she is now following up with something equally triumphant, even though she had to depend on a grant to do it. Favel needed every penny as she researched the expeditions and the real Nella Dan. Oh indeed, as the fascinating notes at the back attest, the ship is real.
The MV (Merchant Vessel) Nella Dan was the most famous of the vessels serving the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition. (Makes you realise why they called it ANARE for short doesn't it?) I won't spoil the story by giving away its fate but, believe me, the ship is as much a character as any of the humans.
Talking of humans, it may seem odd bringing together a Danish merchant navy chef and a little girl on Tasmania, but, as we luxuriate in the episodic moments, we realise that it works sublimely. Indeed this is what the book is about – random moments that can shape a life or two. They may be random and momentous like bereavement or random and almost insignificant like a conversation with a teacher at school but they all piece together to open up two people whom we grow to love.
We slowly understand how and why Bo connects with his on board home as it's juxtaposed against his own childhood, comparing that with Isla's current fatherless existence. We gradually realise that the ship is a cocoon sheltering from more than weather and the sea.
We may wonder why the children's father isn't with them but that's also explained over time. That picture pieces together but not all the other sub-plots come in ready off-pat packages. Some, like the instructions on phone use or the hunt for the sea moose take more thought or are just content to be taken at face value. However, be warned: there are tears (or a lump in the throat for the hardier reader) as we realise the connotations that have passed Isla and her brother by.
The author's skill is also displayed in the writing of her supporting cast. Some of them may only appear in one or two scenes, but the level at which we engage with them in such a short time is a lot deeper than other authors can effect in a whole book of setting out theirs. Less is more and we come away remembering even those whose drift through Bo and Isla's lives fleetingly.
Talking about skill, once again Favel's trademark lyricism bears us across gossamer prose or shakes us as powerfully as if we were flotsam. From that first sentence beginning There was a time when Vikings filled our house… onwards, we are totally lulled by some clever lulling. Fancy an example? Try this experiment: read the novel and then re-read those first two pages. The impact will be even greater because by then we've been on the same journey as Isla had travelled when she narrated that segment.
In so many ways When the Night Comes is more than a book. It's a companion to cherish as it says more to us each time we finish it and are drawn back to the beginning to start again… or is that just me?
(Thank you so much Sceptre for providing us with a copy for review.))
Further Reading: If this appeals then we also heartily recommend Favel's debut. If you're already a fan and appreciate some lyricism in your fiction, then we also suggest the wonderful We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo.
You can read more book reviews or buy When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett at Amazon.com.
When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett is in the Top Ten Literary Fiction Books of 2014.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.