Breaking their poses like trees snapping branches, the women urgently regarded each other, cleared away all signs of work in an instant, examined their souls for defects, in a sense crossed themselves, and waited. After Laura and Clare are abandoned by their mother, Felix is there to help, even to marry Laura if she will have him. Little by little the two sisters grow complicit with his obsessions, his cruelty, his need to control. Set in the leafy northern suburbs of Sydney during the 1940s, The Watch Tower is a novel of relentless and acute psychological power.
Our book club is always keen to gain new knowledge and perspective when it comes to reading novels, especially if said novel is considered a modern masterpiece! What serious reader doesn’t want to add to their list of read classics?
So it was with this intension that we ploughed through Australian author Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower.
Now, although our opinions differed somewhat, there was no doubting the emotion that this book exposed. We all felt the enslavement and vulnerability thrust upon Laura and Clare by the misogynist Felix, and although this left the majority of us frustrated and angry, there was some empathy for two unexperienced and emotionally inept women in a time when there was little or no support for such souls.
There were those of us who disliked this book intensely. Found the story line grim and too slow and the characters unlikable. Then we had the opposite … brilliant writing that looked to expose the raw reality of domestic abuse within a dark, psychological thriller.
Eleanor did not get to read this month’s selection, but she did see a great interview with Harrower and it led her to believe that The Watch Tower may have had some biographical content. This sort of insight usually brings more questions than answers to our discussions.
If only we could have An Audience With … Elizabeth Harrower!
If you are keen to see our book clubs in action, don’t miss our Audience With David Cairns this month.