After reading Favel Parrett’s There Was Still Love, I had to find ‘Past the Shallows’ (which I had somehow missed in 2011). This was her debut novel, though she had quite a successful writing career before then.
Just like in ‘There Was Still Love’, the settings and experiences in ‘Past the Shallows’ are beautifully captured, so the visit to the southern region of Bruny Island is well-worth the journey. In fact, the coastal setting and the ocean are significant ‘characters’ within the story.
Three brothers, Joe, Miles and Harry live a troubled existence in this remote location following the tragic death of their mother. Joe has left home and thus, Miles is the one who is commanded to help on his father’s fishing expeditions, while Harry, the youngest is left to his own devices.
For his brothers, the chance to surf is a breakaway from their sad lifestyle, even though the area they surf is tough and unforgiving. Harry, who fears the ocean finds his escape once he discovers Jake and his owner, the reclusive George. Though we might fear a solitary man living in an old rundown cottage, (and maybe Harry should also) George provides a grandfatherly influence in Harry’s life.
As Favel Parrett carefully discloses details about the Curren family’s past, we grieve for their losses and rejoice in the precious snippets of family love they knew. Each of the boys has something to remember, learn from and live through. Is there hope?
Just as their remote location has both grim and beautiful aspects, so too do their lives. There is both joy and sorrow in this tale, with the bond of brothers a strong element. And there will be both laughter and tears as you read this one.