Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Australian Women Writers: Laraine Dillon's The Easement

This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

Queenslander Laraine Dillon's first novel, The Easement, was obviously bubbling in the back of her mind for many years. Published in 2008, it is a passionate and irreverent tale of moving to the seaside in the late 1980s.

After a slowish start dealing with shifty real estate agents and lawyers, first person narrator Maggie Stewart takes us on a whirlwind adventure. It is shared with laconic husband Max, complete with his silver hammer, daughter Amber and a family that extends exponentially as the story progresses.

It is the world of the 'white shoe brigade' who were known to sell land below the high-tide mark in the Sunshine state. Probably still do. This is not a tale of the Aussie battler. The magnificent seascapes of Reflection Bay are viewed from their swimming pools. But nor is about the silver-tails. Our heroes are the aspirants making good.

Their eccentric neighbours, the Pitts, are the vehicle for much of the dramatic tension and a considerable amount of farfetched farce. The Stewarts get lots of help in creating mayhem from their friends, especially Irish lawyer Markus and his wife Madonna, and a group of Harley bikers known as the Ulysses Club.

What 21st Century novel would be without some cuisine flavour. The staff of their new restaurant 'Maxwell's' also come to the party, lead by the stereotypical gay Frankie.

The pace gets more frenetic and the plot farcical, as the climax explodes at a wedding and an auction. To quote Maggie from earlier in the story, things are "all over the place like a fart in an colander".

Laraine certainly enjoyed writing The Easement, so I'm looking forward to her latest The Pitts in Paradise. Just hope she can spare us the camel scene this time.

A major theme involves connections with the indigenous world, with Duncan Ryan as a very modern aborigine. Identity and land rights are important aspects. Laraine dedicates the book to her family and her ancestors but "sadly" she has no indigenous ones that she can find.

Thanks to the Queensland publishers CopyRight Publishing for the complimentary copy.

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