Kate Hosking proves she is more than up to the task in portraying the sharp-tongued, nomadic, and emotionally fraught protagonist Snip Freeman in Nikki Gemmell’s engrossing novel, which finds Snip venturing to the Australian Outback, or The Centre, to track down her father and quench her burning desire to find out why he abandoned her and her mother years ago.
Apart from imbuing the seemingly headstrong but emotionally fragile Snip with a humanism, she manages to capture the vastness and cultural nuances of the Outback and its natives in this engrossing Australian tale.
Snip Freeman is a painter with a waitressing problem, a wanderer in search of her past. She'll visit a place, find a man and a studio and a scrap of a job, until the zing of uncertainty pulls her on. She is anchored nowhere, touches the earth lightly. Then she turns her back on a drowning man. And suddenly she has reason to stay put.
Taking up Shiver's theme of women in tough places, Cleave illuminates the troubled relationship between wandering and settling, belonging and freedom, parents and children, partners and lovers; between white and black, secretive silences and the truth. It is a novel of great power and lyricism.