Writer: Michelle De Kretser
Publishing House: Allen & Unwin
Date of Publication: October 22nd 2014
Rating: 5 stars
‘’When I was small, going home past the forest at the end of the summer evening, I used to see shining people between the trees.’’
My first experience with Michelle De Kretser’s work was her atmospheric, tender historical novel The Rose Grower. Therefore, I knew I was in good hands when I came across her novella Springtime characterized as a ghost story. It is indeed short and exquisite. And the most important thing of all is that it will make you think and decide as to the outcome. For there are no clear answers…
‘’…in Sydney the streets ran everywhere like something spilled’’
The story follows Frances in her new life in Sydney along with Charlie who has a son from his first marriage. As she tries to adopt to these new surroundings with the sole support of her dog, Rod, she comes across a woman in a garden, dressed in period clothes. Who is she? A ghost? A trick of France’s mind? So, she goes on with her life and the apparition never leaves her mind.
I will keep this review short because you really need to read Springtime to fully appreciate it. There are so many themes for discussion and consideration. The doubt over a relationship that may not last, a new environment, a new house, people you have to interact with although they’re absolutely appalling to you. Above all, the fight to convince yourself that everything will work out in the end. There is a lovely period touch since Frances is a writer specializing in 18th century gardens, something that gives her an aura of mystery. The same quality permeates the writing as a whole. A ghost story may refer to a number of things. We don’t have to necessarily be certain that what we saw was an actual apparition. Sometimes, the spectre at the feast is much more troubling and frightening. The inner fear of potential failure, of not being enough, of not knowing what we really want. The prose reminded me of Susan Hill’s beautiful, ambiguous short stories that stand upon the border between reality and a world beyond our own. A hazy, hypnotic atmosphere with seemingly disjointed passages and a main character who is marvelously developed and mysterious enough to raise more questions as we read.
If you find Springtime, don’t let it slip away. Read it and decide for yourselves…