A Blue Room Book Review – After the Fire A still Small Voice – Evie Wyld

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Women. Will they ever be understood by the male of the species? They’re mysterious, beguiling creatures – so easy to love, with most of my gender in complete inadequacy when coming to grips with their feminine psyche – with this only adding to their allure. I am permanently in thrall of the women in my world. I find them easier to talk to than most men as they have endless topics of conversation, not just footy, cricket and when at a loss, the weather. I love being in their company. My own special one is a gem, but even after all these years of being hopelessly besotted with her she can still surprise. Could I write a fictional account centred on one? I have my doubts. From memory, in all my scribblings, there’s only one that has a woman at the centre – (http://blueroomriversidedrive.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/the-white-bikini.html) – and I doubt if I came anywhere getting it right with her!

I write stories. I love the process of it. There really isn’t much of a point for doing so apart from the fact that a few people I love read them and seem to enjoy my efforts. I doubt if any will see the light of day in terms of being published, but that doesn’t overly concern me. It’s become an essential (to me) retirement pre-occupation. It was only reading Evie Wyld’s most praiseworthy first novel that I realised how sexist I have been. I write about men – I suppose how they work, or at least this one, is what I know best, even if relating to them I often find hard yakka. Women, on the other hand, are far more open about their lives and I love to pry. It’s given me the basis for some of my scribblings, even if they’re not told from their perspective.

Conversely, Ms Wyld’s debut effort was almost entirely male-centric and she really has us pegged. She was able to delve beneath the skin of her ‘strong, silent types’ and get to the nub of their tortured souls, particularly with in the ones who are her main protagonists. She captured the essence of those who have fought for their country and came home angry, not understanding why. One was violent to his partner-in-life without understanding why. Some had to escape their demons into the desert, or the sub-tropical north, to try and give it all meaning. There was one war-blitzed character who found, as I have, perfect contentment in later life – at least he in part understood why. As with us both, in the famous words of Jimmy Buffett ‘There was a woman to blame!’ It was a bravura accomplishment, even if there were bits that annoyingly jolted. I have no problem with her having one of her ‘men’ as a born again Christian, but to locate him in an Aussie town entirely populated bysuch-likes seemed to me somewhat surreal. Would motels in the seventies turn away Vietnam vets – I doubt it, despite the high feelings at the time. I think also there were a few factual inconsistencies that gave me the irrits, but these are minor matters when the big picture of what this Australian born, UK resident has produced. Her two main men, Frank and Leon, operating forty years apart and in very diverse locations, eventually have their lives entwined. Frank takes off from the nation’s capital to steamy Mullaburry, on the north coast, to flee. Leon also has connections to this hamlet. The latter’s demons are Vietnam induced and need to be exorcised elsewhere. Will these seekers of redemption entirely ever become at peace with themselves?

The book has won awards and the author has been recognised as one of the most promising talents of her generation – so who am I to quibble. But quibble I will with her denouement as I felt there was still some teasing out to do to make this a wholly five star experience. There is no getting away from the fact, though, that this book took me on a journey I found immensely rewarding.

Evie Wyld has a newer release – ‘All the Birds Singing’, a tome revolving around a country type born in Oz, but, like her, now resident in Old Blighty. Its hero, Jake, is woman. Can she write as well on one of her own gender? Its premise is intriguing. ‘After the Fire A Still Small Voice’, about flawed men, aims at flawlessness and almost succeeds. Has she conquered the curse of the sophomore novel? I intend to find out.

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Evie Wyld’s web-site = http://www.eviewyld.com/

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