Tag Archives: michelle de krester

Scary Monsters – Michelle De Krester

Scary Monsters – Michelle De Krester

I have read other books by Michelle De Krester, so I was keen to read this one when I saw it in my local book shop. It is double-sided, you read one side and then flip it over and read the other. I don’t think you need to read a particular side first.

Here’s the blurb …

‘When my family emigrated it felt as if we’d been stood on our heads.’

Michelle de Kretser’s electrifying take on scary monsters turns the novel upside down – just as migration has upended her characters’ lives.

Lili’s family migrated to Australia from Asia when she was a teenager. Now, in the 1980s, she’s teaching in the south of France. She makes friends, observes the treatment handed out to North African immigrants and is creeped out by her downstairs neighbour. All the while, Lili is striving to be A Bold, Intelligent Woman like Simone de Beauvoir.

Lyle works for a sinister government department in near-future Australia. An Asian migrant, he fears repatriation and embraces ‘Australian values’. He’s also preoccupied by his ambitious wife, his wayward children and his strong-minded elderly mother. Islam has been banned in the country, the air is smoky from a Permanent Fire Zone, and one pandemic has already run its course.

Three scary monsters – racism, misogyny and ageism – roam through this mesmerising novel. Its reversible format enacts the disorientation that migrants experience when changing countries changes the story of their lives. With this suspenseful, funny and profound book, Michelle de Kretser has made something thrilling and new.

‘Which comes first, the future or the past?’ 

I think this book consists of two novellas and the linking theme is living in a place that is not your place of birth. One of the stories is set in the future and one in the past. I liked them both, but my favourite would be Lilli’s story (the one set in the past). I think that’s because she was young, living in France and it all seemed a bit of an adventure. Lyle’s story (the other version) was funnier – I liked the references to trying to be more Australian, but also more upsetting – the future is not a particularly pleasant place and it all seemed plausible: 50+ temperatures in Melbourne, Australia’s unclimate policy, etc.

It is beautifully written and engaging.

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The Life to Come – Michelle de Krester

The Life to Come – Michelle de Krester

I have been a bit hit and miss with Michelle de Krester. I loved The Rose Grower, didn’t like Questions of Travel and really enjoyed this one.

Here is the blurb …

Set in Australia, France, and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, as societies, and as nations. Driven by a vivid cast of characters, it explores necessary emigration, the art of fiction, and ethnic and class conflict.

Pippa is an Australian writer who longs for the success of her novelist teacher and eventually comes to fear that she “missed everything important.” In Paris, Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka, but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time and can’t commit to his trusting girlfriend, Cassie. Sri Lankan Christabel, who is generously offered a passage to Sydney by Bunty, an old acquaintance, endures her dull job and envisions a brighter future that “rose, glittered, and sank back,” while she neglects the love close at hand.

The stand-alone yet connected worlds of The Life to Come offer meditations on intimacy, loneliness, and our flawed perception of reality. Enormously moving, gorgeously observant of physical detail, and often very funny, this new novel by Michelle de Kretser reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform and distort the present. It is teeming with life and earned wisdom—exhilaratingly contemporary, with the feel of a classic.

I have left it too long to really write anything meaningful – I need to take notes, but while I am reading I am immersed in the story (not really thinking analytically).

I know I enjoyed it – in particular Christabel’s story.

Another review

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