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The Hope Fault (Tracy Farr, Fremantle Press)

On a rainy weekend, Iris and her family—her ex-husband, his new wife, her son and her friend’s daughter—are packing up their coastal holiday home. The house has seen parties, homemade cakes and endless cups of tea, and, over the course of a single weekend, we discover the connections and fractures that create a family. It’s a time of ‘unmaking’—as the house is dismantled, so too is the history of this non-nuclear family. Each heirloom found has a hidden meaning, and secrets sit just below the surface. As the family goes over its history—an abandoned affair, a hospital visit, a new baby—we witness the intimacy of domestic life, its fluid ecosystems and ultimate acceptance. This second novel by Tracy Farr is a quiet morning; it is coffee brewing in the kitchen and nestling under blankets. It echoes the thoughtfulness of Jessie Cole’s Deeper Water, with its literary reflection on the geography of family, and the way domestic life can be invaded and divided. A gentle anxiety underlines the air of contentment, as Iris meditates on the mystery of teenagers, and feels deep gratitude when they have the courage to reveal their inner selves. With its forgiving examination of relationships, The Hope Fault is a book for parents and unconventional families.

Lou Heinrich is a writer and critic


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