Scribe, $32.99 pb, 240 pp
Laura Elizabeth Woollett demonstrates her mastery of the polyphonic novel in West Girls. The book, Woollett’s fourth, comprises eleven nimbly interwoven chapters that explore origin, agency, and delusion in a patriarchal society.
The central character is Luna Lewis, whom we first meet as a pre-teen visiting family in Malta. Luna projects an innate confidence that often belies – or is belied by – her own naïveté. We learn that her mother has whisked them away from Perth to Europe following her ex-husband’s remarriage to Indah, a former ‘Princess of Indonesia finalist’. Luna boasts of her unusual family dynamic to her sheltered and religious younger cousin, Stefania: ‘I’m a bastard’, she says proudly, showing her a picture of Indah ‘in a sunshiny kebaya with a jewelled black bun’ nestled in the pages of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She goes on to list the worldly things that fascinate her – squat toilets, amputees, and the Dark Arts in Harry Potter – an early suggestion of her governing principle where living an artful life means embracing the unconventional or the macabre. It’s a salient portrait, one that shadows Luna as the reader follows her into her many lives across continents and decades.