Book Review: Nest by Inga Simpson, 2015 Stella Prize Longlist

“The trees gathered around, their trunks a steady grey-brown. Sometimes she suspected they shuffled closer during the night… in the morning sun, shafting down from the ridge, their new leaves were luminous, as if emitting a green light of their own… life’s pace had slowed, living among the trees again, and she had been happy to let it.”

– Inga Simpson, Nest

There is something quite magical about living among the trees; the sounds of the birds in the morning, the changing colours of the trees throughout the day and the beautiful fresh air. Inga Simpson’s new book Nest is a stunning story about nature, loss, grief and healing. It is about isolation and the restorative nature of the bush.

9780733632341 Nest by Inga Simpson

After the break down of her marriage, Jen escapes to the small coastal town of her childhood, aching for a quiet life away from town gossip and prying eyes. Hiding away from the townsfolk, Jen’s only source of news comes from the talented young boy Henry, whom she tutors in art. When a girl goes missing from Henry’s class it brings with it a flood of memories for Jen, who’s own best friend went missing when she was the same age. It forces Jen to deal with the events of her past, the sadness of losing her best friend and the anger of her father leaving at the same time. As the town searches for the little girl, and waits for the summer rains, Jen also seeks out the answers to the questions she has spent her whole life wishing she had. Why did her father leave and where did Michael go?

Marysville, Victoria, Australia!

Marysville, Victoria, Australia!

The most enjoyable part of this book is Simpson’s ability to bring to life the world around Jen. Simpson’s observations of nature mirror Jen’s desire to capture the beauty of her surroundings. While her narrations are vivid and descriptive, they never overwhelm the reader with detail. There are times when the birds feel as though they could fly right out from the pages and if you closed your eyes, you would hear and feel everything that Jen does. I don’t know how I feel about Jen’s character… she is reclusive and broody and definitely a little strange but it is her flawed nature that endears you to her in the end. When the rains finally come, they bring with them the answers they all seek and the opportunity to heal.

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