The Freycinet novel was written by Melanie Calvert. Melanie described herself as “a Tasmanian trapped in Canberra” when she asked us to review her novel.
Freycinet Novel: the Hazards
Photos by Dan Fellow
A book report! I haven’t written one of those since I was in high school (way, way, back…). Sure, I’ve written lots of reviews; even one for Simone Bett’s book, Tasmanian Menu. But this was a novel. I did wonder if I’d be able to write a report without giving too much away. You know… like the plot and the characters and the ending! But Melanie asked so nicely, how could I refuse?
What I’ve decided to give you, is five things I liked about the Freycinet novel. That way, I can’t go spoiling any surprises. Given the book is a murder-mystery, the last thing you want to read is who-dunnit. And with this book, you’re kept guessing right until the end, so finding out who-dunnit WILL be the last thing you read.
1. The Complex Main Character: Ginny O’Byrne
Ginny O’Byrne, the main character of the Freycinet novel, is surrounded by murder suspects and often trapped in a threatening situation. But for someone painted as plain and ordinary, Ginny is nothing of the sort. Given that she experiences visions of the victims, there’s many dimensions to her story. Once I’d finished reading the book, I found myself still thinking about Ginny. Her circumstances definitely provide food for thought, making you reflect on the reasons people behave the way they do.
2. The Setting: Freycinet National Park
How could I NOT love the setting of the Freycinet novel, given my own obsession with all things Tasmanian? After Dan Fellow shared some of his images from Freycinet Sanctuary, I’ve been more keen than ever to return to that part of the east coast. My only real experience of the region is a quick stop-over on a touring holiday at Coles Bay, when we hiked up to the Wineglass Bay lookout. But the Hazards of Freycinet National Park, although very much the major focus, are not the only feature mentioned in the book. Melanie draws on her local experience to mention many other places including Weldborough, Launceston, Port Arthur and even the west coast.
3. Colours of Tasmania: Vivid and Breathtaking
Melanie Calvert has a way with colours! Where I might describe a colour as blue or green, Melanie has a myriad of creative contrasts to interchange. Many scenes have been painted from a palette of colours that I’ve never experienced, and it left me wanting to see them. The Freycinet novel might be a murder mystery, but I can only imagine it will entice people to visit Tasmania, rather than scare them off.
4. The Aboriginal History: Legend and Lore
Woven through the story are the legends and lore of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Harking back to my school days again (yes, I do have a long memory, as it turns out!) I recall learning about Aboriginal tales of snakes and rocks and tribal customs. Just like the Sandra Huett book Only in Tasmania, Freycinet gives the reader a history lesson “without the boring bits”. Did you know that Tasmanian aborigines didn’t eat fish? I did not know that… before I read this novel.
5. The Fairy Tales: Melanie Calvert and Deja Vu
Ballerinas in red shoes and witches in disguise. All the stuff of children’s fairy tales, and somehow Melanie Calvert manages to revive those memories of almost-forgotten stories. Do you know what it’s like to have a vague impression that you’ve heard or experienced something before? What’s it called… deja vu? Well I could barely recall some of those Hans Christian Andersen tales that I’d learned… once upon a time! And having them brought back to the fore in a murder mystery makes you realise that it’s quite a bizarre concept; scary books written for children? Much better suited to a novel for adults and certainly an appropriate sub-theme for Freycinet.
And that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject of the Freycinet novel. Otherwise I’m bound to give away something important. And speaking of giveaways (how’s that for a subtle segue?) Melanie has given Think Tasmania a second, signed copy of her Freycinet murder mystery. And it’s destined for one of you!
The scenery photos used in this article were taken by professional tourism photographer, Dan Fellow. We chose them after reading Freycinet, to reflect what we thought Ginny O’Byrne and her fiancé Julian Rockcliffe could have seen during their stay at “Devil Lodge” in the shadows of the Hazards. Honeymoon Bay, Sleepy Bay… it’s hard to picture anything other than an idyllic, romantic getaway. Until you’ve read the book!
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