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The Girl in the Bath

The Girl in the Bath 1

by Robyn Bishop
Publication Date: 31/03/2014
4/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $27.49 $26.75
Eighteen-year-old Lila is at a crisis point in her life. Alone and in the bath, she has just given birth to a premature baby she did not even know she was carrying. The baby is born dead. Numb with shock, denial, and disbelief, the young girl fears that her past will suffocate her. Now she must hide the truth from her family and friends, and she can't even begin to think what will happen if what happened is ever revealed. Unaware of Lila's troubles, her mother and brother slog their way through unsatisfying lives of their own. Meredith, stuck in a menial job at a travel agency, seethes with inner frustration at the disappointing hand life has dealt her. Jason endures school and gets through his days only by obsessing about sex, as all fifteen-year-old boys must. Feeling more alone than ever, Lila finds an unexpected ally in Doris, their dwarfish next-door neighbour. What Lila doesn't realize is that reclusive Doris has been spying on her for almost a decade. Lila is the daughter Doris always dreamt of having. Doris reaches out to Lila for her own reasons, and the two hatch a plan. Will this unlikely pair of conspirators succeed in burying Lila's shame, or will her secrets be revealed?
Contemporary fiction
Publication Date:
Balboa Press
Country of origin:
United States
Dimensions (mm):

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Average Rating

4 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • The Girl in the Bath

    by on

    THE GIRL IN THE BATH - Bishop, Robyn

    In playwright Bishop's debut novel, teenage Lila's unexpected, stillborn baby acts as a catalyst in helping a small Australian community heal long-festering emotional wounds.

    With the weird grace of a Jane Campion film, this novel balances the potential tear-jerker quality of its story with richly drawn characters. Titular girl Lila handles the birth of her stillborn, premature baby with a surprising aplomb, ducking her teenage brother Jason as he heads out to school and her travel-agent mother Meredith as she rushes off to her unfulfilling job. While Lila fends off a visit by her possessive boyfriend, Dean, with text messages, Meredith internally rehashes the epic failure of her marriage to cad Cliff while flirting with her middle-age co-worker Charles. Meanwhile, Lila's depressed neighbor Doris is drawn out of her decadeslong funk and into the oddly appropriate role of savior/mentor. Will Meredith allow herself to experience love, as opposed to hanging on to the illusion of glamorized lust? Will the residents of the poverty-stricken Pandora Crescent overcome their failures and begin leading new lives?

    Although peppered with the occasional clich "weak at the knees," "The wheels of justice," "her little eyes as round as saucers," etc.this novel has a taut, surprising narrative. Bishop has a knack for weaving what could be ponderous back stories into the main thrust of the narrative, thereby rewarding readers instead of punishing them with unnecessary detail. Additionally, while the characters occasionally exhibit somewhat outlandish flourishes, Bishop complements these traits with an unerring sense of human frailty: "Lila could not remember Meredith ever crying again. If she had, it was behind her own closed bedroom door and not in front of her children." The icky emotional territory of the novel is leavened with compassion and a wry sense of humor, while carefully chosen rural and urban features, from wind storms to the forced intimacy of unimaginative tract housing, subtly move the story forward. Essentially, Bishop plumbs the flawed depths of
    human regret without relying on manipulative theatrics.

    Despite occasionally clunky prose, a tight narrative that adeptly balances raw emotional trauma with compassion and

    inventive staging.
    Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, TX 78744