The World Beneath is a perfect example of how award lists can lead to amazing reads. The book is on the short list for the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards 2010 which I wrote about here.
I am ashamed to say that I had not really heard of Cate Kennedy before seeing her name on the list but I will certainly be keeping an eye out for all of her work from now on.
The World Beneath is a character novel focusing on a fractured family consisting of Sandy, Rich and their 15 year old daughter, Sophie. Sandy and Rich first met when they were young and idealistic and fighting for a cause - in this case the protest against the Franklin River dam in Tasmania in the early 1980's. They stayed together after this cataclysmic event in both their lives but when Sophie was born Rich decided he wasn't quite up for the suburban family life and he left Sandy and Sophie to explore his own life. The World Beneath starts 15 years later when Rich plans a week long bush walk for himself and Sophie as an attempt to reconnect with the daughter he has hardly seen since.
This is an amazing novel that kept me up reading late at night in an attempt to finish it. Kennedy's ability to construct each character separately and also make a character out of their less than functional family unit is incredible - I am in awe of her skill! Each character is clear and raw and flawed - they feel real and because of that I connected with them throughout the story even when there were times when I couldn't stand them!
If you enjoy reading novels where character development and reflection is the main focus than this is book for you - it will have you thinking long after you have finished it.