If you’re planning to read Past The Shallows by Favel Parrett I would recommend that you do not do so in the bath. I made this mistake last night. I got in, planning to make a start on the book, but I couldn’t stop reading and when I got out of the nearly cold bath two hours later the book was finished.
Needless to say, the book is a gripping read. The bleakly compelling narrative follows Harry and Miles, brothers who struggle to protect one another in a difficult life which has seen them lose their mother, uncle and grandfather, leaving them at the mercy of their unstable and embittered father. As their older brother Joe prepares to leave Tasmania and Miles is forced to leave school to work gathering abalone with his father, the boys seek small comforts where they can, until a catastrophe occurs.
This is not a happy book, but Favel Parrett’s understated approach to the difficulties of the brothers’ lives is impressive and moving. Harry’s vulnerability is chilling, and Miles’ desperate attempts to protect his little brother from the cruel world in which they live are heart-breaking. The prose is pared back and functional, and I think it is this restraint which makes the novel feel so worryingly real, so horribly credible.
A truly impressive debut, Parrett’s writing is powerful and unflinching.
Don’t read it in the bath, but do read it.