Olivia arrives at her mothers chateau in rural France (the first time in more than a decade) with her two young children in tow. Soon the family is joined by Olivias brother Marcus and his wife Sophiebut this reunion is far from joyful. After years of desperately wanting a baby, Sophie has just given birth to a stillborn child, and she is struggling to overcome her devastation. Meanwhile, Olivia wrestles with her own secrets about the cruel and violent man she married many years before. Exquisitely written and reminiscent of Ian McEwan and J. M. Coetzee, Disquiet is a darkly beautiful and atmospheric story that will linger in the mind long after the final page is turned.
They stood before the great gateway, all around an empty and open countryside, ugly countryside, flat mudploughed fields. On that morning the sky was balm, a pale and whitish blue. The woman was dressed in a tweed pencil skirt, a grey silk blouse and her dark hair was pulled back into a loose chignon, the way her mother once used to wear it. Her right arm was broken and she'd rested it in a silk-scarf sling which co-ordinated unobtrusively with her blouse. By her feet, a suitcase. The children - the boy was nine, the girl was six and carrying her favourite doll - were saddled with backpacks and they each guarded a small suitcase of their own. The woman stepped forward and went right up to the gate - iron-spiked, imposing - looking for the lock. Instead she found the surveillance system, a palmpad, and she rested her palm on this electronic pad for a long moment until she was defeated. Unfazed, she returned to collect her suitcase and, without a backward ...
Though some critics have argued that Disquiet is light on plot, Olivia's evolution is absorbing and complex. Leigh is an artist working at the top of her game, and the success of this novella lies in her ability to shave as much fat from her narrative as possible, while maintaining deep, profound significance. Similar to a Rembrandt sketch, this novella breathes full-bodied life through only a few deft, precise strokes. Like a poem, each word carries a heavy load. Leigh is a remarkable, stunning writer and Disquiet is a must-read.
(Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Full Review (748 words).
Disquiet is Julia Leigh's second work of fiction, and it took her nine years to write. When asked why it took her so long, Leigh replies: "There is a nice quote I like from poet Elizabeth Bishop, something like scientists and artists are alike in that they are prepared to waste effort ... When I am exploring things, ...
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