Road Story by Julienne van Loon – Book Review

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It’s like a dream or perhaps a nightmare. Diana Cooper has fled a car accident and disappears, eventually finding herself at a remote truck stop. She takes a job in the kitchen and hides, wondering what happened back in Sydney. What is more painful – not knowing and imagining or having her worst fears realised?

I’m a huge fan of Van Loon’s writing. I like the way she releases the story piece by piece, and when punch is thrown, it really lands hard. Road Story is a short novel but so deep and painful.

Road Story won The Australian Vogel Literary Award and was shortlisted for several other awards.

Harmless by Julienne van Loon – Book Review

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Eight-year-old Amanda and Rattuwat, an elderly, Thai man are walking across unfamiliar landscape after his car breaks down on the way to visit her father in jail. Gradually, it is revealed that Rattuwat’s daughter was in a relationship with Amanda’s father before he was put away. She has recently passed away and Rattuwat is trying in his own way to find a future for Amanda.

The book is told in chapters from the point of view of different characters in the story, and it keeps you guessing right until the end. It is heartbreaking – so much pain and devastation. Some is brought by their own actions and some is uncontrollable, but all is painful. For such a small book, Harmless packs an incredible punch and still brings a tear to my eye when I think on it for too long.

Julianne van Loon will be appearing at the Melbourne Writers Festival at The Morning Read on Friday August 23 at 10am at Beer DeLuxe, Asian Stories Australian Postcodes on Saturday August 24 at 10am at The Cube, ACMI, The Morning Read on Saturday August 24 at 10 at Beer DeLuxe and is hosting First Flight on Sunday August 25 at ACMI. For tickets and more information visit MWF.

Beneath the Bloodwood Tree by Julienne van Loon – Book Review

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One of the things I really love about Melbourne Writers Festival is that it introduces me to the work of authors I did not know previously. Thanks, MWF, because I now know Julienne van Loon, and I suspect I will be a lifelong fan.

Beneath the Bloodwood tree is set in Western Australia in Port Hedland, looking at life over a few months through the eyes of several characters; there is Pia Ricci, the dentist of Chinese/Italian background who is conducting a casual affair with a married man whose wife lives out-of-town; Joachim, the Dutch nurse who enters into a more serious relationship with Pia with unexpected consequences and the widow Barnes who lives mostly in her own mind with the ghosts of her past.

I love the pacing of van Loon’s writing. Information is drip fed, but not in the way that makes you want to race to the end and pull it to pieces. Instead, she directs you in each direction, letting you see a little and then taking you elsewhere until eventually, you realise you’ve seen the whole picture, and it is not what you expected.

Julianne van Loon will be appearing at the Melbourne Writers Festival at The Morning Read on Friday August 23 at 10am at Beer DeLuxe, Asian Stories Australian Postcodes on Saturday August 24 at 10am at The Cube, ACMI, The Morning Read on Saturday August 24 at 10 at Beer DeLuxe and is hosting First Flight on Sunday August 25 at ACMI. For tickets and more information visit MWF.