Past the Shallows
Hauntingly beautiful and told with an elegant simplicity, this is the story of two brothers growing up in a fractured family on the wild Tasmanian coast. The consequences of their parents' choices shape their lives and ultimately bring tragedy to them all.
Harry and Miles live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania. With their mum dead, they are left to look after themselves. When Miles isn't helping out on the boat they explore the coast, and Miles and his older brother, Joe, love to surf. Harry is afraid of the water.
Everyday their dad battles the unpredictable ocean to make a living. He is a hard man, a bitter drinker who harbours a devastating secret that is destroying him. Unlike Joe, Harry and Miles are too young to leave home and so are forced to live under the dark cloud of their father's mood, trying to stay as invisible as possible whenever he is home. Harry, the youngest, is the most vulnerable and it seems he bears the brunt of his father's anger.
I read Past the Shallows over last weekend and have been struggling with what to write about it since. It is so profoundly moving and so beautifully written that I’m not sure that I can do it justice. I not only took Harry and Miles to my heart as Favel Parrett urged me to in her introductory letter to the proof, I wanted to go down to Tasmania, find them, bring them home and give them lots of bread and peanut butter and Milo and keep them safe and warm.
The portrayal of the landscape is acutely observed and rendered in sparkling detail that reveals a connection to the natural environment that shines through in her characters. It’s something they know to both love and fear. This book is written with such a calm assurance and is so richly nuanced that it’s a pleasure to weep to. Pure artistry with no artifice.
Mary Bayley, Account Manager – Melbourne
Tim Winton is the only other author that can leave me so completely broken hearted yet so grateful at the end of a novel. Favel Parrett’s first novel follows two brothers as they deal with the traumatic death of their mother and the abuse of a grieving father. Favel chooses her words carefully so that half of the story is told off the page. The characters and their word become so real that you can’t help but become emotionally involved in their struggle. Past the Shallows is an unbelievably good debut that will deeply affect every reader.
Daniel Pilkington, Account Manager – Sydney