Melbourne writer Robert Lukins’ debut, The Everlasting Sunday (UQP, 2018), is an elegant novel about seventeen-year-old Radford’s time at a home for troubled boys in England over the Big Freeze of 1962-1963. He finds friendship and brotherhood there among the other boys and their admired but mysterious mentor, Teddy, as the life of the home begins to fall apart. The novel is cinematic in its sumptuous visual narration, which is in tension with its careful avoidance of explanations. Even when we’re inside the head of Radford, we only see glimpses. This restraint gives the novel some of its distinctive tone; it is beautifully written. Perhaps its flipside is that the more dramatic events of the narrative took me too much by surprise – was the narrative working with a different logic to what I was used to, was it the fault of a somewhat lazy reader (quite likely), or could it have been strengthened by some foreshadowing or other changes? Setting the novel over the big freeze was a superb choice with its symbolic resonances and the way it gives a timeframe, a clock ticking over the course of the freeze as the characters – and the reader – wait for the inevitable thawing. It doesn’t read like a first novel and it’s probably not; ‘assured writing’ Lucy Treloar claims on the cover, and I agree. It’s also wise and haunting. I came to this novel through Lukins’ inspired Twitter presence; it’s not necessarily the tone or type of novel I expected from his tweets, but it’s every bit as good as I hoped.
Ted Witham said:
Thanks for this , Nathan. I shall look out for it.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Ted Witham said:
It was a compelling read, Nathan. Images from the book stayed with me days after. Unlike you, I wasn’t surprised by the events at the end (no spoilers). The hidden, unspoken tensions were there. And that’s the strength of this book: to describe the inner lives of these broken kids solely from the surface. Quite an achievement!