Picking up her pace, Frances saw a woman in the shadowy depths of the garden. She wore a wide hat and a trailing pink dress; a white hand emerged from her sleeve. There came upon Frances a sensation that sometimes overtook her when she was looking at a painting: space was foreshortened, time stilled.
Frances and her partner Charlie have recently moved to Sydney. As she battles a sense of displacement, Frances finds pleasure in her daily walks with her rescue dog, Rod, who looks fearsome but is terrified of strangers. On a favourite stretch of her walk, Frances starts to glimpse a woman in a long dress, accompanied by a white dog. There is something surreal about what she sees, and she can’t help thinking the figure is ghostly.
Springtime is an intriguing little story – a short novella exploring the supernatural as well as themes of displacement, family and relationships. Billed as a ghost story, and packaged in a charming small hardcover format with a slip case, it is a book that is a delight to hold and to read.
Springtime: A Ghost Story, by Michelle De Krester
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores and online.
Afterwards, Tom would remember the dog ignoring him and the spurt of impatience he had felt. The dog had to be walked and the house packed up before the long drive back to the city. He was keen to get moving while the weather held. So he didn’t pat the dog’s soft head when he strode to the fence and reached for him.
Tom Loxley is using the solitude of a rented house in the bush to finish his book about Henry James when his dog escapes and goes missing. Over the next ten days Tom searches anxiously for the dog, as he also deals with his ailing and elderly mother, his difficult relationship with his artist friend Nelly Zhang and his past.
With the narrative looping back and forth from Tom’s childhood, his adult life and current events, readers are gradually allowed to grasp the different parts of Tom’s past and present, coming with him to make sense of much of it.
This is a cleverly crafted novel, combining elements of mystery, romance and self-reflection as well as an exploration of aging and the meaning of life.
The Lost Dog, by Michelle de Krester
Allen & Unwin, 2007
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