Ache (Eliza Henry Jones, Fourth Estate)
Eliza Henry Jones’ second novel demands that you slow down, take a breath and settle in. This beautifully written novel will eventually reward you for working past the slow opening. The story centres on Annie and her attempts to heal after a traumatic incident has left her bereft and emotionally isolated. A fire has killed her grandmother and left her daughter distraught. Annie is not coping and the only way she can alleviate her growing anxieties is to head back home. Annie’s resilience is admirable, although her dedication to fixing her fraught marriage and family relationships does seem sacrificial at times. Her rising realisation that she is anguished for so many more reasons than are immediately apparent is the novel’s strength. It is here, in these passages of discovery, that Henry Jones’ writing becomes the most heart-wrenching and pleasing to read. This novel is recommended for those who loved Stephanie Bishop’s The Other Side of the World or Alice Munro’s short stories. Ache is the perfect account of a woman on the edge, moving towards peace. It is an extraordinary creation from a young novelist.