by Pip Smith
Why Our Staff Love Half Wild: The scandalous true story of Eugenia Falleni, is a tragic one, well-known to Australian history buffs and already fantastic enough. So for a debut novel to use this as the basis of a novel, and keep this history tragic reading (when I know the story's end), is a significant achievement. Pip Smith recreates the times and the characters with vivid detail and empathy, whilst spinning a story that is hard to put down. She has created new connections and a sense of flow missing in the official accounts. I enjoyed this book so much more than I expected to, savouring the chance to 'hear' Harry's story directly, and feeling the pain of the protagonist as we follow through the many dire circumstances. This is a colourful yet humane retelling that achieves the author's high goals (and will likely win awards), and I thoroughly recommend it.
The burned body of a woman is discovered on the banks of the Lane Cove River. Was she a mad woman? A drunk who'd accidentally set herself on fire? Nobody knows, until-three years later-a tailor's apprentice tells police that his mother went missing that same weekend, and that his stepfather, Harry Crawford, is not who he seems to be. Who, then, is he?
Based on the true lives of Eugenia Falleni, Half Wild is Pip Smith's dazzling debut novel.