Goodwood – Holly Throsby

I imagine Goodwood would be something like Bridport. These days, after my home location by the river down south, it is well and truly my favourite place on our island. That, my son, with his lovely partner and my mint new granddaughter, live there is part of the reason – but not all. There’s more to it than that.

Of course there are differences between the two towns. Briddy is a two pub affair, Goodwood has just a single to slake the thirst of the locals. The former comes alive during the summer months, but for the remainder is a sleepy place, like Goodwood year round. My son’s town sits on Anderson Bay, the fictional locale on a lake. But it’s the feel of these places – they’re welcoming and close knit. There’s neighbourliness like you do not get in suburbia or with inner city living. And there’s nothing much that happens that doesn’t reach the ears of the denizens of each. Most would reckon they had a fair handle on each other’s business – mostly a blessing, particularly when times get tough.

But over the course of a couple of weeks, back in ’92, all that changes for Goodwood with two local identities disappearing in quick succession – both seemingly without a trace. It’s up to the town’s copper, Mack, to sort it all out, find them or give some closure on both if the unthinkable has happened. What has become of Rosie, the gorgeous young lass who works at the fish’n’chippery; or of Bart, the local butcher – a jovial fella with a heart of gold?

Jean, our narrator, is looking back from the present to this tumultuous period for the town – events occurred that threw her young adult years out of kilter. She stumbled across a clue that she figured may have been linked to the whole business, but what to do, what to do? And not far away from Goodwood, to increase the tension, some backpackers have disappeared as well in a certain forest. We all know how that turned out.

Goodwood is the fictional creation of Holly Throsby who, up until its release, has been better known as one of our leading singer songwriters, as well as for being the daughter of much loved media personality Margaret. The novel was a project for Throsby while she was off the road expecting her her first child Alvy, now two. And the book really is a stunning debut and I am not alone in ranking it on the same level as Craig Silvey’s classic small town drama ‘Jasper Jones’ (can’t wait for the film of that title coming soon).

As with that book, Throsby’s in no way hurries to put the pieces together. Although the pace is leisurely it is a cracking read – for me a page-turner of the first order. Apart from the town’s mystery, there is much else on young Jean’s mind – her mother’s chest pains, just what exactly is her relationship with the lad who loves to stare at cows and then there is the new girl in town, Evie, whom she’s not quite sure about.

As with my Bridport, one of the main activities in the place is fishing – and this figures huge for a place like Goodwood as well. Both towns are full of eccentric characters and maybe a busy body or two, as with most communities of that size. And no doubt there are secrets to be found behind closed doors – but for the fictional town many of these are exposed by the jittery times after the disappearances as Mack starts to make headway with his investigations. Maybe the two are linked in someway.

I was pleased to read Throsby is now working on her sixth album. But even better news is that she’s making headway with her second novel. Shes really off to a flyer with ‘Goodwood’ and hopefully the longer form of writing will not remain for long the second string to her bow – as good as her music is.

Holly’s website = http://hollythrosby.com/

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