Natalie Funston review The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane.
About The Book
One morning Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she’s blown in from the sea. In fact she’s come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem.
Which of them can Ruth trust? And as memories of her childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, can she even trust herself?
The Night Guest is a mesmerising novel about love, dependence, and the fear that the things you know best can become the things you’re least certain about. (from http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9781743480601/night-guest)
The back of this book intrigued me with the talk of a tiger being in a house by the beach in Australia. I don’t do well with unreliable narrators at the best of times, but found myself questioning things through the novel. When I finished it I wasn’t at all sure how I felt about it. I think I was a little underwhelmed as I quite like knowing what is going on in novels and I wasn’t sure I did with this one.
Writing this review now, a few weeks after having finished the book, I think that it was done quite well. As I read the book I always had the feeling that I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, or what was real. For a while I thought that Frida might not have been real. And what about that tiger? However, Frida did interact with Ruth’s son and the neighbour who found Ruth’s husband. There were scenes that had me flicking back through the book to check I hadn’t missed anything. I thought that Frida was such an interesting character. I really wanted to like her but felt that something wasn’t quite right with her. I think that is how the reader is supposed to feel about her. The whole feeling of confusion or uncertainty about what was going on is I guess meant to show Ruth’s decline.
This book won the 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Award