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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

The Fragility Of identity

The Other Side of the World - Stephanie Bishop

Set in the mid nineteen sixties this is the story of Charlotte a young, talented painter, struggling with the demands of motherhood and the pressures of surviving on the salary of her academic husband, Henry.

 

Deeply rooted in Cambridgeshire, she is nevertheless persuaded by Henry to emigrate to Australia in search of a better life; but the reality of their new environment is nothing like the brochures Henry has browsed.

 

In this new, alien country, Charlotte becomes entirely unmoored, while Henry, an Anglo-Indian who had not previously questioned his Britishness, finds himself confronted by an insidious barrier of covert racism.

 

Their marriage quickly starts to unravel and ultimately Charlotte begins to fall apart, unable to give herself to her children or her husband because she no longer possesses enough of herself to do so

 

Precise, unflinching, sometimes painfully sad but always beautifully-observed, The Other Side Of The World is an exploration of what we understand by the idea of home, and a study of the fragility of identity. A first-rate work of literary fiction