Goodwood, by Holly Throsby
Genre: Mystery / Fiction
Published: October 2016, Allen & Unwin
What it’s about
From the official blurb: Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It’s a place where it’s impossible to keep a secret.
In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens. Two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood’s most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home.
People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don’t just disappear.
What I thought of it
I really enjoyed it. It’s a slow burn and a small story, but I think that’s the point. Goodwood isn’t just one story, it’s a dozen small stories of individual lives woven together in a small community before the internet gave us instant access to global news.
Holly Throsby is a fabulous storyteller and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the mystery unfold through Jean’s eyes. There are bigger issues at play, but we never forget that Jean is only 17 years old. And when you’re 17 years old your priorities are rather different to your priorities when you’re an adult.
When Bart the butcher vanishes, Jean muses:
Suffice to say, buying meat became a sombre affair and some people in town were subdued into reluctant vegetarianism, or drove the forty minutes to the big Woolworths in Clarke.
It probably helps that I was just starting high school in 1992 – the year this book is set – but I LOVED the 90s details. I spent half the book exclaiming ‘Oh my goodness! I remember [insert lost 90s relic here]!!’
It was so much fun. Throsby does an incredible job of intertwining outstanding imagery with pop culture references that had me jiggling in my seat to remembered tunes:
Dismay had spread from the town and seeped in through our open window. I chopped the onions. Tears ran down my face but I hardly noticed them. I could hear Fitzy calling out, Myrtle, Myrtle. Mum and Mack shared a moment of weighty silence. Paul Simon was singing. He said that if he could call us Betty then we could call him Al. The crickets chirped loudly. I was on my way to the pantry for the olive oil when the phone rang.
Who should read it?
If you love a good story set in small-town Australia along with fabulous, quirky and entertaining writing, you’ll love this book.
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