Nineteen Days 1
- Publication Date:
- Atlas Productions
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This is a powerful little read.
Nineteen Days is the second novel by Australian author, Kath Engebretson. Genevieve Bennet and her husband Peter are on a cruise: nineteen days out of Sydney to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Genevieve would rather be anywhere else than in the middle of a crowd of people intent on eating, drinking and having a good time.
While Peter deals with his grief and anger in their cabin, Genevieve sits on deck, watching the passing parade, later described thus by a fellow passenger: “the unusual, the ancient, the beautiful, and the downright weird” while another adds “the shallow, the spoiled, the over-indulged, the loud, the fatuous, the annoying.”
A morbidly obese yet ever-cheerful man catches her eye, and she chats with him. Thomas McNaughton is, perhaps because of his unconventional childhood, or perhaps in spite of it, a good listener, and Gen finds herself sharing parts of the family’s traumatic loss. Eventually, Thomas reciprocates; they look forward to spending time together on deck, demonstrating the peculiar phenomenon that makes it easier to tell secrets to strangers.
Gen encounters Thomas’s travelling companion, Martin, who has taken up with a younger crowd, but reveals something else about Thomas. Certain other passengers also find a rapport that sees them sharing secrets with those providing an understanding ear and an objective opinion, as those at a remove are more able to do.
The attention of those in deckchairs is drawn to an excitable boy, non-verbal, on the spectrum, and this becomes a talking point for some of those interacting with Thomas and Martin, Gen and Peter. By the formal farewell dinner, with various upsetting revelations already made, some find the courage to confess shocking transgressions: blame is slung and guilt results in potentially tragic consequences.
Engebretson’s setting is easily believable and provides a crucible for feelings and emotions; her characters are multi-faceted and the problems they face are credible and furnish ample material for thought and discussion. This is a powerful little read.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Atlas Productions.