A review by Emma Streeton
‘ARE YOU STILL a liar?’ This is the opening line to Volk’s incredible novel Desire Lines. These words pulled me in from the start. I gripped onto this book tight and did not want to let go.
Catastrophe is all seven-year-old Paddy O’Connor has known. Abandoned by his family and shipped from institutional care in London to an Australian farm school, his world is a dark place where he is forced to deal with painful events and memories. To Paddy’s south in Canberra, young Evie is safe with her loving family, yet soon learns there are some paths from which you can’t turn back.
From their first meeting as teenagers, Paddy and Evie grow a compulsive, unconventional love that spans decades, taking them in directions neither could have foreseen.
Desire Lines is a story of family, hardships, love and loss. It is the story of two individuals, Paddy and Evie, who we follow from childhood to adulthood. The novel covers the history of their relationship and cleverly intertwines this with the history of the Australian nation. It takes the reader on an unforgettable journey through desire, love, lies and loss.
Protaginists that make you feel
The two main characters in this book lept from the pages and came to life. They were so human, faults and all. Through Volk’s development of their character I was able to see their reasons and thinking as their lives unfolded. Their reactions and emotions changed as they did, and their decisions became easier to understand as the story progressed. This made for a great and believable reading experience.
Volk involves us deeply in the lives of her two central characters who seem to constantly spin around each other. They manage to come together for a time, part, meet and part again. Paddy is lost and traumatized. And secure Evie, from a middle-class Canberra home, seems an unlikely pairing. However, the bond between them is profound and powerful. It is the power of this connection and the way it ensnares the reader that makes this book hard to put down. They are a fascinating pair. The dynamics of their relationship stayed with me long after I turned the final page.
It is a book that had me changing my views about Paddy and Evie throughout. Whilst I did not always like them, I became deeply invested in their journeys. I was desperate to find out how their lives worked out and whether their love could survive through the turbulence and chaos that seemed to follow them. Their characters made me feel a lot of emotion. For me, this is always a sign of a good book.
This is definitely a book that will stay with you long after the final page. Desire Lines by Felicity Volk is a truly fantastic read that I already told a lot of my book-loving friends about. A book to savor and a delight to read. One of the best books I have picked up in 2020 so far.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Category: historical fiction