Brian Matthews reviews 'A Stolen Season' by Rodney Hall

‘We are the inheritors of a world we need to remake for ourselves.’
Rodney Hall, The Island in the Mind (1996)

Of the now twelve novels that make up Rodney Hall’s distinguished prose fiction – ranging from The Ship on the Coin (1972) to this year’s A Stolen Season – it is arguably in the latter that the task of remaking is most explicitly and adventurously undertaken, even literally in the case of Adam Griffiths. As an Australian soldier fighting with the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, Adam has been shockingly wounded: he is ‘helpless and isolated’. ‘Cocooned in his own silence’. Now, with his young wife, Bridget, who, in edge-of-panic reflection, muses ‘she ought never to have married him in the first place’, Adam, smashed, burnt, ‘ought to have died’, navigates the pain-racked hours, tortured step by step, with the robotic help of his exoskeleton, ‘the Contraption’. Like Viktor Frankenstein, Bridget recognises that she is in thrall to a monster: ‘He is her monstrosity, hers and hers alone.’

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Published in April 2018, no. 400