Melbourne, 1959. An eleven year old boy witnesses a murder as he spies through the window of a strange house. God, whom he no longer counts as a friend, obviously has a pretty screwed-up sense of humour: just one year before, the boy had looked on helplessly as his twin brother suffered a violent death.
A bold, captivating and outrageously funny novel about a boy who refuses to give in and the numerous shifty, dodgy and downright malicious bastards he has to contend with on his grand adventure of loss and is discovery.
Digging beneath the surface of a story can unearth some interesting finds … so we found in our June book The Cartographer by Peter Twohig. At first look, this boy’s own adventure had our group ho-humming and predicting a tedious read with little to interest us. But in true book club style we persisted and most of us found a clever, original voice in the narration, wonderfully humorous moments, likable, believable characters, yet something dark and sinister lurking just below it all.
The vague references to the darker side of 1950s Melbourne; police corruption, bookies, betting even murder was well balanced within the story line, although making the many connections was not always easy. We also picked up on the main character’s (we never were given his name) anguish over his twin’s death and considered this whole adventure a way of dealing with and coming to terms with his loss.
To begin with, both Lorna and Anne thought they had another Jasper Jones in their clutches, but it never quite got there. Lorna found the style and pace did not give her time to get emotionally involved as she did with Jasper, but she enjoyed it all the same. We all felt the freedom and joy of childhood imagination taking flight and throughout our discussion there was much laughter and nostalgic reminiscing.
So although it may not make our ‘must read’ list, The Cartographer gave us an immensely delightful hour of imaginable fun and we were happy to suspend belief for this rollicking ride through a child’s fantasy world. We all hope never to be too old for that!