There was so much about Past The Shallows that I just couldn't go past. The title for a start, so simple, so beautiful, so tempting. The fact that this is the first novel of a young, female Australian author - a group of writers I like to support whenever I can. The cover, gloriously colourful and yet discreet at the same time. And then there is the author's name - how gorgeous and unique is it?? You will be pleased to know that after all that the content did not let me down.
Past The Shallows is the story of Harry, the youngest of three brothers living with their father on the remote south coast of Tasmania after the death of their mother. Harry is the observer and recorder of the family history - it is through his eyes that we learn of the difficulties in his family, how much his father is struggling, emotionally and financially and how the three brothers are each trying to carve out an existence in an isolated family and environment.
The sea is a constant presence in the story - it is the way Harry's father earns a living and it is also a big source of comfort and pleasure for each of the boys in some way. Parrett is obviously extremely knowledgeable about this landscape and the essence of the water and the way each character interacts with and responds to it comes across clearly in the story.
The characters all came across strongly in the story but Harry was especially powerful, It was interesting to read Parrett talk about the character of Harry in an interview after the book was published;
"I love Harry very much. Sometimes it still makes me cry when I think about him. He is a very special character to me - some kind of gift really"
It is so lovely to hear an author speak this way about a character she has created - and this passion certainly comes through in the character of Harry and the story he creates.
In some ways this is such a simple book - in its structure and prose - but in other ways it is deeply complex - and definitely very moving.