Blanche Clark reviews 'The Restorer' by Michael Sala

Blanche Clark reviews 'The Restorer' by Michael Sala

The Restorer

by Michael Sala

Text Publishing $29.99 pb, 352 pp, 9781925355024

Domestic violence is an everyday reality for tens of thousands of women in Australia. Recent horrors and public campaigns have raised awareness of this social scourge. Journalists have written extensively on the subject, yet it is novelists, as Michael Sala shows in The Restorer, that can give us a more acute view of the emotional complexities that bind couples and keep women in threatening domestic situations.

The Restorer begins with Richard sitting outside his front door. A car towing a trailer laden with household goods pulls up outside the dilapidated property next door. Richard observes the new arrivals: a hesitant, slightly built woman; a gruff and muscular man; an awkward teenage girl; a boy kicking a discarded can. ‘Welcome to Newcastle,’ Richard says, only to be greeted with a stare, which causes ‘a prickling unease that reminded him of being singled out at school’.

This is one of two parenthetical chapters told from Richard’s perspective. The others alternate between the mother, Maryanne, and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Freya. The first chapter establishes the outsider’s point of view: that of the reader observing and judging, though powerless to intervene. We are not so much in the heads of Maryanne or Freya as looking over their shoulders, wanting to grab them and drag them from harm’s way.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in April 2017, no. 390
Blanche Clark

Blanche Clark

Blanche Clark is a journalist and former Herald Sun books editor.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.