Title: When the Night comes
Author: Favel Parrett
Genre: General Fiction
Opening line: ‘…Sometimes we would visit his ship …’
Blurb: Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything. Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life on-board. Like the snow white petrels that survive in the harshest coldest place, this lonely girl at the bottom of the world will learn that it is possible to go anywhere, be anything. But she will also find out that it is just as easy to lose it all. For Isla, those two long summers will change everything.
My thoughts: The icebreaker MV Nella Dan sailed between Hobart and the Antarctica for the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions every year, taking men, women and fresh food to various bases and bringing home those who have served their time. She did this for 26 years until she ran aground in high winds in 1987 close to the Macquarie Island station; the 45 crew members were all saved. The owners decided that salvage was not possible and she was towed out to sea where she sank in true Viking fashion, in flames. This moment of Australian maritime history has been used as a back drop by author Favel Parrett as she relates the story of Isla and Bo. The story is told from the points of view of both Isla and Bo, through Bo we learn about life at sea and how he came to work on the Nella Dan, while Isla tells us about life in Hobart after her parents’ divorce and her mother moves Isla and her brother to Hobart for a new start. Until Bo comes into their lives life is sad and lonely for the small family. Bo is larger than life and tells them about life on board ship, life at the bases, the beautiful birds and the total utter peacefulness of the Antarctica. The progression of the story, with the occasional back filler, is beautifully told. The chapters are short and the few traumatic events are dealt with quickly, a just a few words eloquently summoning the intense feelings without allowing the characters, or the reader, to wallow in emotion for very long. Parrett draws you into her story with sparse but evocative writing. There is not one superfluous word, it is bare bones writing – but so full of information that the lack of wordiness is not a problem. Like the voyage to Antarctica life is full of unexpected risks that need to be overcome; Bo teaches Isla that these risks should be met head on and conquered and then a smooth patch will be found and life will continue on. Most of Isla’s point of view is from her as a child, although towards the end she speaks as an adult and you understand how the events that took place in 1986 and 1987 have shaped who she is today. A beautiful story and thoroughly recommended.
For more about the author – Click Here
For the story of Nella Dan – Click Here
B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
With thanks to Hachette Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.