Title: The Three of Us
Author: Kim Lock
Published: January 30th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australian
Rating: 5 stars
A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.
In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.
Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…
In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heartwarming depiction of love against the odds.
Small town fiction based in Gawler, South Australia, is the focus of Australian author Kim Lock’s third novel. The Three of Us is a rousing novel, that strikes at the very core of human relationships, revealing how love can come in many forms, when we least expect it.
In a small neighbourhood in the South Australian town of Gawler, newlyweds Thomas and Elise Mullet have settled into their new home and are looking forward to starting a family together. In this perfect little street, the houses are well kept and the lawns are carefully manicured. Everyone seems to be living the charmed life. However, there are secrets that some of the residents of the quiet and unsuspecting Church Street have been concealing from one another. When the Mullets encounter new next door neighbour Aida, their lives take a complete back flip. The Three of Us closely follows the journey of this set of neighbours, through the decades, as they experience, love, marriage, loss, birth and a friendship like no other.
I have been eagerly awaiting my chance to experience this book and the highly praised writing of Kim Lock. I decided to put aside some time on a recent holiday for this book, as I had the distinct feeling that once I started it I wouldn’t want to put it down. I was right, this is exactly what happened when I read The Three of Us! Adding to my curiosity is the big secret these characters have which turns this book on its head and I was warned! I tried not to go into The Three of Us with any sort of expectations, or predictions on what the surprising main subject matter would be. I think it worked, as I was very open minded in my reading experience to The Three of Us. Apologies for being very vague, but I do not wish to spoil the enjoyment or surprise factor for any potential readers. What I can say is I adored this book and I admire Kim Lock’s writing. I also urge any reader with the slightest bit of interest in The Three of Us to take a punt on this book, read it, I guarantee it will floor you!
Part of the appeal of The Three of Us is Kim Lock’s refined and simple prose. I rarely feel the urge to pull quotes from a text, but I felt compelled a number of times to savour the resonating words expressed by the characters in this novel. The Three of Us is a book that has so much to say about our way of life in Australia and our biases, but it is done with a simple tone that gets deep inside your soul. I love this style of transformative writing. It takes one talented writer to be able to subtly get under the skin of a reader and challenge their emotions and outlook on life. Bravo Kim Lock!
Another greatly appealing feature of The Three of Us is the recreation of the setting. I loved how The Three Us provides the reader with a modern history of Australia. Carefully woven within this novel are the social attitudes, policies and morals prevalent of the time. These also morphed as the book crossed from one decade after another. I liked how Lock included a number of cultural references relevant to the era in which she is depicting. A great wave of nostalgia washed over me more than once and I enjoyed this experience.
Lock’s characters are the kind of protagonists that leave a stain on your mind and are unlikely to leave you, long after the final word of this book has been read. Thomas is endearing, incredibly open, honest and kind. I found myself completely wrapped up in his life story. I liked the narrative choice of having Thomas reflect on his life as he is sadly nearing the end of his time, relaying the pivotal events of his life to a psychologist. It was a strong narrative device that drew me into this novel. Alongside Thomas comes Elsie, his dear wife and the woman that he shares so many life experiences with as the book progresses. What I liked about Thomas and Elsie Mullet is that they seemed like such simple and ordinary people, thrust into quite an unconventional situation. These are people we can easily picture living in our street or town, they are well drawn and authentic. This also extends to the third main character in The Three of Us, Aida, the mysterious neighbour who turns the Mullets life around through her presence. Alongside the Mullets and Aida, come their offspring and the community of Gawler, where our leads they live and work. I was impressed by Lock’s ability to bring both her minor and major characters to life so beautifully on the pages of this addictive novel.
So I come to the main subject matter or themes of this novel that I will need to skirt around. I will say there are moving portrayals of love, friendship, miscarriage, relationship pressures, forced adoption, Australian politics and policies, the rise of feminism and the thalidomide scandal. Apologies in advance for my evasiveness, but I really do not want to ruin this book for you! I will say The Three of Us offers up one of the most powerful studies in alternative love I have come across. Accolades need to be directed towards the author, Kim Lock, for exploring uncharted territory. The release of Lock’s novel comes at the right time. Our country seems to be embracing change and our acceptance of different relationships has come a long way. I am hoping that The Three of Us will pave the way for more of this style of Australian literature. Most of all, I hope this book will encourage discussion, acceptance, openness to change and a willingness to see how love often should not be seen in black and white. The Three of Us helps us see with clarity that love can be colourful and all encompassing.
Sometimes a book comes along that changes your world view and challenges your perceptions on a moral level. The Three of Us is a game changer and I admire Kim Lock greatly for taking a chance and writing a novel that really did need to be published. This novel offers up a love story like no other. I implore you to seek The Three of Us out, sooner rather than later.
The Three of Us by Kim Lock was published on January 30th 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Three of Us, Kim Lock visit here.
*I wish to thank the author, Kim Lock, for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Three of Us is book #34 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge