The Lone Child (Anna George, Viking)
Away from the city and the lover who left her when she was eight months pregnant, Neve Ayres spends her days alone with her newborn son in the Victorian coastal home she designed, battling bone-deep tiredness and failing routines. One day she saves a young girl who falls into a rock pool while her mother is out of sight. When the girl reappears at Neve’s house, alone and begging her not to call for help, Neve finds in Jessie’s company what could be a way out of her despair—or further into it. At the core of this novel is a story of abandonment and the long-term fissures it plants in the heart, shot through with Neve’s need to give Jessie the care that her own childhood lacked. This is Anna George’s second novel, after her 2014 debut What Came Before. Her writing lays bare the lives of women in the vein of recent psychological thrillers from the likes of Paula Hawkins and Aoife Clifford, but The Lone Child’s visceral, disorienting stew of Neve’s scattered thoughts are a singular, heady read.
Fiona Hardy is a bookseller at Readings Carlton and a committee member of the Ned Kelly Awards