When the book’s narrator agrees to a holiday away with her three older sisters in the small Italian town of Corniglia, she insists on her own apartment. Through they were close once, now they seem distant. And it’s not just the many countries and oceans that separate them physically. It’s deeper than that. The past has driven a wedge between them, made them strangers to each other. But they’re still family.
The London living narrator has only remained close with Florence based Rose. While Ngaio and Jess, both still home in New Zealand have drifted out of her life and out of her heart. Their parents’ divorce 20 years ago, that resulted in the sisters taking sides, a major catalyst in the drift.
But when Rose disappears one night without a trace, the past comes flooding back. Fingers are pointed in the need to find explanations, relationships are questioned and even the most unlikely hypocrites are laid bare.
The first chapter of Absence is slow to start. The dialogue, sometimes overly curt and casual is hard to warm to. As it can be when you are guest at the family dinner table of a friend; speaking in their own colloquial tongue as they bark at each other to pass the spuds. Though, the familiar bickering that can only occur between sisters, is comical and enticing. It draws you in enough to keep you reading until Rose disappears. And then of course you can’t put it down.
It’s no surprise that Joanne king as well as a journalist, was writer for film and television before writing this, her debut novel; she has a strength for creating relatable characters and a knack for pithy, natural dialogue.
An interesting read. I am intrigued to see what King will write next.