Monday, 12 January 2009

Finding Darcy / Sue Lawson

Summary - “Then I found what I was looking for. A photo of a man in army uniform. Written in pencil, on the back of the photo, was Darcy Charles Fletcher, 1941.”

When Darcy Abbott is sent to live with her surly grandmother and silent great-grandmother (and a TV curfew of 9.30 and no internet access) for three months, she discovers a mystery regarding the death of her great-grandfather, Darcy Charles Fletcher, during World War II.

By Finding Darcy, Darcy Abbott discovers exactly what she has been searching for all her life — except she didn’t know it.

Review - I am ashamed to admit this but I bought the book because I thought the cover was pretty. Turns out I was rewarded with a great read, but isn't that poppy as pretty as a picture?

I really loved this book. The combination of Darcy's dissatisfaction for living with the women of her family, classroom bullying and a thirst for information on her great-grandfather (for whom she was also named) is riveting. I am a bit of a war buff (history is my thing); so the beautiful incorporation of Darcy's piecing together information on her forefather within a contemporary Australian setting was compelling to me.

Darcy's been saddled with a living history project and as such begins to research her great-grandfather with the extra difficulty of World War II discussion being banned in her home. Through this research, Darcy is able to better understand why her somewhat crazy great-grandmother, Batty, and her unyielding grandmother, Misery, as pieces of information begin to fit together and the truth is revealed. I think what stayed with me the most, is the damage that is wrecked on a family by war, not just the immediate generations but those following too. It felt intensely personal at times, light hearted at others.

Themes of family, love, grief, war, bullying and anger are strong throughout. Lawson has a beautiful way of sharing her world with the reader and the storyline had me entirely invested in the outcome. The humour was great throughout - it had me from the moment I read Darcy's nicknames for her grandmothers. This book highlights that by talking about our lost loved ones, we give them the best legacy, remembrance.

The humour, drama and tension of this novel, along with the peppering of our country’s war history is an amazing read exploring the relationships between four generations of women. I loved each of the character’s complexity, their journey to understanding and organic growth. It is all these things that helped me decide to make it one of my texts for English this year. I think that is the best recommendation I can give a book (and that I will be reading her other titles).

Published: 2008
Format: Paperback , 280 pages
Publisher: Black Dog Books
Origin: AUST.
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Black Dog Book's Finding Darcy page
Black Dog Book's Author page
Sue Lawson's Official Website