The Paper House begins benignly, even buoyantly, with a recently married couple, a new house, and the stirrings of pregnancy. But the intense grief that suddenly upheaves the narrative sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Set on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, this début is an affecting portrait of a family pulled together and wrenched apart by mental illness. After a loss, Heather sinks into a quicksand of sadness that threatens to pull her under. Anna Spargo-Ryan handles her fall with considerable empathy. Heather's husband, Dave, shares her sense of dislocation, 'For five days we sent our bodies into the world without us.' But it takes more than just him to help shoulder and redistribute the pain; Heather's sister, Fleur, and her father, Bruce, as well as a motley group of neighbours, rally round and help her, in their own idiosyncratic ways.
Thuy On reviews 'The Paper House' by Anna Spargo-Ryan
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Thuy On is a Melbourne-based reviewer, copywriter, and manuscript assessor. She has contributed freelance reviews to publications including Australian Book Review, The Age, The Australian, Bookseller & Publisher, and The Big Issue. She has been a bookworm since she first began reading and is now rediscovering the beauty of picture books with her three-year-old daughter.
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