2016 Reviews · Australian · mystery · small town

Book Review: Goodwood by Holly Throsby


Book blurb:

It wasn’t just one person who went missing, it was two people. Two very different people. They were there, and then they were gone, as if through a crack in the sky. After that, in a small town like Goodwood, where we had what Nan called ‘a high density of acquaintanceship’, everything stopped. Or at least it felt that way. The normal feeling of things stopped.

Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It’s a place where it’s impossible to keep a secret.

In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens. Two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood’s most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home.

People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don’t just disappear.

As the intensity of speculation about the fates of Rosie and Bart heightens, Jean, who is keeping secrets of her own, and the rest of Goodwood are left reeling.

Rich in character and complexity, its humour both droll and tender, Goodwood is a compelling ride into a small community, torn apart by dark rumours and mystery.


My review:

I love a little thing called Australian small town fiction, which is the focus of debut author Holly Throsby’s novel, Goodwood. Goodwood is your typical Australian town, complete with a set of Aussie stereotypes. The story is primarily told from the eyes of a perceptive teenage girl named Jean Brown. Goodwood in a sense is a coming of age story, as Jean conveys the feelings experienced in Goodwood as two beloved townsfolk disappear. The novel also explores how the town of Goodwood deals with this scandal and how/why these two residents have vanished.

Goodwood is an example of small town fiction done well, with a full-bodied Australian flavour. Holly Throsby displays her talent as a debut writer in her approach to this novel. What arises from this story is an intriguing tale and it is the type of book that the reader cannot help but get completely involved in Goodwood’s mystery. Throsby has created a great set of characters in Goodwood, they all in their own ways embody the traits of a typical Australian. Consequently, the dialogue that emits from these characters is authentic and personable. The insertion of Jean Brown as the narrator, was a good choice on the author’s behalf. I really did enjoy her version of the strange events that took place, in what seemed like a pretty ordinary town. I feel the standout feature of this novel has to be the setting and time period. Growing up in a coastal Australian town in the 1990’s, allowed me to experience an overwhelming sense of nostalgia while reading this book, which I appreciated. In addition, I found humour could also be drawn from many parts of Goodwood. In particular, the sense of everybody knowing each other’s business gave me a chuckle or two, while reading the novel. Overall, I feel Throsby gives the reader a very accurate picture of small town life in 1990’s Australia, which is nicely tied together with great characterisation and an added compelling mystery.

Holly Throsby displays her ability to successfully make the transfer from singer/songwriter to writer in her debut novel, Goodwood. As a fan of Australian based small town fiction, this one really hit the spot for me.

Goodwood by Holly Throsby was published in 2016 by Allen and Unwin.



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