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When the Night Comes - Book Review

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published October 3rd 2014
A Story of Dreams and a Little Red Ship
I recently heard author Favel Parrett interviewed about her new book, When the Night Comes, on the radio. I felt sufficiently moved and motivated to immediately jump online to order a copy; that, in an era where hard copy books are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, is quite something.

When the Night Comes
Cover of 'When the Night Comes'

This, Parrett's second novel, runs parallel stories; the first, the story of a young girl, Isla, who with her mother and younger brother, have fled the mainland to live in Hobart. The second story is of Bo, a Danish sailor, who regularly passes through Hobart on his journeys to the Antarctic on 'the little red ship', the MV Nella Dan. And so, their lives intersect.

Admittedly, my upcoming trip to the Antarctic next year could be a factor in my interest, but it was Favel's immersion in Antarctic seafaring and the simple, yet compelling, way she described her experiences that made me want to get hold of her book. In researching for When the Night Comes, she spent a month on the Aurora Australis, and also travelled to Denmark to speak with former sailors of the Nella Dan. Parrett was awarded the Antarctic Arts Fellowship, which facilitated the travel to complete her research.

Favel Parrett
The author Favel Parrett, from her website:

When the Night Comes is an easy read, though thoughtful, and taking time to process, without being too challenging. With much of the story being narrated by the young Isla, the style through much of the book is almost child-like in its style and simplicity.

In many ways it is a sad story, and yet, we get to see that despite the sad events in people's lives, they can move on, and hopefully find 'calmer waters' ahead. Perhaps the saddest story is that of the Nella Dan, which is scuttled after running aground. The lives of many sailors and expeditioners was changed with the sinking of the Nella Dan. In a postscript to the book, Parrett has transcribed a series of quotes from this group; all of them speak of the ship in fond terms, almost like she was a living entity.

When the Night Comes
The Nella Dan (image credit: Dr. Robert Ricker on Flickr, via Creative Commons)

I particularly liked the way Parrett handles the relationships in this book. There is the way that Isla looks up to sailor Bo, seeing him almost as a hero figure. But as we have Bo's side of the story as well, we realise he is vulnerable as anyone else.

The relationship between Isla and her brother, similarly, is subtle, gentle and entirely believable.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I'd rate it 3 out of 5.

Click here to buy this book (in Australia) (the copy I received has been signed by the author).
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Why? A well written, subtle yet powerful, novel about Antarctic travel and human relationships.
When: Available now
Where: Everywhere
Cost: $27.99
Your Comment
I also rate this book highly. A writer who is able to communicate feeling without having to laboriously detail everything. It works.
I recommend her first book too, a bit darker than this one.
Best wishes for Antarctica.
by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1501) 2391 days ago
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