Where the Light Falls, by Gretchen Shirm

Andrew read the message through twice. His eyes skipped over the words as if by reading them quickly he could reduce their impact. But it was too late. Missing, he thought. Perhaps that meant she simply didn’t want to be found. With Kirsten, something like that seemed possible. Maybe she had decided she needed some time away from the world. And yet there was a finality to Stewart’s tone; was he hinting at something more definite?

Three years ago, Andrew left Australia for a new life in Berlin – to reinvigorate his artistic photography career, but also to finally put an end to his relationship with Kirsten, his troubled ex-girlfriend. Now he has a wonderful new relationship and a big exhibition to prepare for. But an email from a friend telling him of Kirsten’s disappearance impels him to return to Australia, seeking some answers to where she has gone. As he tries to investigate he also confronts issues in his own past.

In Melbourne he meets a damaged girl who is a perfect subject for his photography, which focuses on broken things. Working with the girl as he also works through his experiences with Kirsten and his relationship with his mother, leads him to question his motivation and his career.

Where the Light Falls is an artful novel of self-discovery and of confronting the past. Andrew has been damaged by the childhood loss of his father and its impact on his mother, and must confront these in order to move forward – with his new relationship, which his trip to Australia puts at risk, and with his career. Readers will come to care for Andrew, even as they will be frustrated at times by his actions.

A moving read.

Where the Light Falls , by Gretchen Shirm
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760113650

The Nature of Ice, by Robyn Mundy

The Whalers croon while Chad provides the bass. The frozen sea. The frozen sea. When we said goodbye – he catches a sudden movement over the top of the blade and jams on the floor brake. He yanks the steering control to avoid the figure crouching directly in his path. The right track locks and the D8 slides like a chord on The Whalers’ guitar…The woman before him grabs at her equipment, tumbling over herself in an attempt to leap clear. The Whalers strum. Chad yells. The woman skates on one knee, legs tangled with those of her tripod. How the twenty-tonner doesn’t collect her he’ll never know, but the D8 completes on lithe and graceful loop before easing to a stop.

Freya is a photographer with a passion for the photographic work of Frank Hurley, the official photographer on Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic expedition of 1911-1914. Now Freya is visiting Antarctica herself, to discover Antarctica for herself and photograph it’s beauty, it’s danger, and the life of the people who work there. In Antarctica, Freya hopes to capture images for an exhibition – but, at the same time, she sees an opportunity to escape a stifling marriage for a few months.

Chad McGonigal is also at Davis Station, but unlike Freya this is far from his first time. He is regular in Antarctica, having been coming South to work for over 20 years. Largely a loner, Chad loves the isolation and the beauty of the place, but little expects to also fall for the photographer he is asked to escort around Antarctica.

Interwoven through Freya’s story is a fictionalised recreation of Douglas Mawson’s expedition, with its harshness and tragedy. Mawson is portrayed as a rounded character – not just the leader of a famous expedition, but also as lover, as driven dreamer and as flawed as any human. The story is strengthened with the inclusion of letters between Mawson and his fiancé, and draws on the diaries and journals of members of the expedition.

This is a richly layered story – or, rather, set of stories, combining as it does the stories of Freya and of Mawson, along with those of Chad, and of Mawson’s fellow expeditioners. The beauty of Antarctica is present in both stories, as is its harshness, and the mixture of joy and hardship of life in a place where humans are not meant to be.

A passionate, moving book.

The Nature of Ice

The Nature of Ice, by Robyn Mundy
Allen & Unwin, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Resplendent Perceptions, by Renee Buckingham

The beauty of Heron Island – one of the many islands dotted along Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef – have been captured in this new offering from Melbourne-based photgrapher Renee Buckingham.

Titled Resplendent Perceptions, this is a small format, full-colour offering from a talented photographer. The photos recreate different aspects of the beautiful island, with shots taken at different times of day and using a range of different photographic techniques, including the use of coloured gels which provide alternate perspectives on scenes which have been photographed multiple times.

This would make a great souvenir for those who have visited the island and also a nice gift for overseas or interstate friends who have not had the opportunity to visit the reef.

Purchasing details are avaialable on the photographer’s website Rab Photgraphics.

Resplendent Perceptions – Heron Island, by Renee Buckingham
Rab Photographics, 2004