Where the Trees Were
Hachette Australia, $29.99 pb, 296 pp, 9780733634536
It has been two hundred and seventy-six years since Pamela was published, the first piece of writing in English in the novel form; it was a structure designed both to entertain and instruct, and still we are debating if the concept was a good idea.
Inga Simpson is the author of two previous novels, Mr Wigg (2013) and Nest (2014). Both have been critically acclaimed and shortlisted for literary prizes, and Nest was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. This pedigree raises expectations that Where The Trees Were is a significant book of ideas.
Simpson has decided on a popular construct, the social historical narrative – the story of Jayne, a country girl, who becomes an art history curator. Her four best friends are boys from local properties, and we follow them as their lives play out after a tragic accident changes the group forever.