A mesmerizing first novel about trust, dependence, and fear, from a major new writer
Ruth is widowed, her sons are grown, and she lives in an isolated beach house outside of town. Her routines are few and small. One day a stranger arrives at her door, looking as if she has been blown in from the sea. This woman—Frida—claims to be a care worker sent by the government. Ruth lets her in.
Now that Frida is in her house, is Ruth right to fear the tiger she hears on the prowl at night, far from its jungle habitat? Why do memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency? How far can she trust this mysterious woman, Frida, who seems to carry with her own troubled past? And how far can Ruth trust herself?
The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane’s hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about ageing, love, trust, dependence, and fear; about processes of colonization; and about things (and people) in places they shouldn’t be. Here is a new writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to describe the mysterious workings of our minds.
The Big Fall Books Preview 2013:
At age 75, Ruth is a widower, who lives alone in a remote beach home in Australia until one day a mysterious caretaker named Frida shows up to help around the house. But can Frida be trusted? Ruth’s mind isn’t what it once was, but she suspects her new friend isn’t all that she seems. The Night Guest is an impressive debut–a tender novel about old age and a psychological meditation on isolation–that moves with the curious pace of a mystery. Fiona McFarlane is a new voice that reads as if she has the experience of a familiar voice, like she’s been with us all along. –Kevin Nguyen