Disquiet

Disquiet

2.8 11
by Julia Leigh
     
 

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Olivia arrives at her mother's chateau in rural France (the first time in more than a decade) with her two young children in tow. Soon the family is joined by Olivia's brother Marcus and his wife Sophie-but this reunion is far from joyful. After years of desperately wanting a baby, Sophie has just given birth to a stillborn child, and she is struggling to overcome

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Overview

Olivia arrives at her mother's chateau in rural France (the first time in more than a decade) with her two young children in tow. Soon the family is joined by Olivia's brother Marcus and his wife Sophie-but this reunion is far from joyful. After years of desperately wanting a baby, Sophie has just given birth to a stillborn child, and she is struggling to overcome her devastation. Meanwhile, Olivia wrestles with her own secrets about the cruel and violent man she married many years before. Exquisitely written and reminiscent of Ian McEwan and J. M. Coetzee, Disquiet is a darkly beautiful and atmospheric story that will linger in the mind long after the final page is turned.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Leigh follows her internationally acclaimed The Hunter with a haunting family drama tightly packed into a tense novella. Olivia, referred to primarily (and somewhat affectedly) as "the woman," has fled her abusive husband with her two sharp-tongued young children. She seeks refuge at her mother's chateau in France, which she left on bad terms to get married 12 years earlier. Soon after Olivia's unexpected arrival, her brother shows up with his wife, Sophie, and the body of their stillborn child. Although the plot feels a bit slight, there is great emotional weight and disturbing imagery, as Sophie wanders aimlessly, still wearing her hospital ID bracelet and carrying her lifeless daughter in her arms as if the baby were a doll. The chateau is an ideal gothic setting for the morbid events that occur over the course of several days; indeed, there is only one scene that takes place off the chateau's grounds, infusing the novel with an unsettling atmosphere of claustrophobia. Death and impending death reign, but Leigh also paints a subtle portrait of a broken family trying to piece itself back together. (Dec.)

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Kirkus Reviews

A hypnotic novella from the Australian author of The Hunter (2001).

A woman arrives at the gate of a large French estate. She has a suitcase, a broken arm and two children. A stone wall and an electronic security system separate the woman, the boy and the girl from the château inside. Undeterred, the woman leads her children to a door half-hidden by vines. She tears away the clinging leaves to find a lock and tries an old key, but the door doesn't move until the boy forces it open, bruising and bloodying himself in the process. They go through the door. It is clear from the start that this is a story in which bad things happen. It is clear, in fact, that bad things already have happened, that they are always happening, and that they will continue to happen. Leigh makes deft use of the paraphernalia of Gothic literature, but she wields these blunt tools with magnificent restraint. She infuses her tale of violence, secrets and death with a delicate emotional realism, and the result is spellbinding. The family appears to be cursed, and the adults seem to accept that they must relive and repeat their various tragedies. The children, however, fail to act according to script. They are unpredictable—as children are—and their volatile verisimilitude injects the possibility of hope into this narrative of doom. It is uncertain, though, whether this means that calamity will be averted or, rather, that the final disaster will be even more horrifying: Leigh sustains the tension between life and death until the very end. It's difficult to imagine a reader who will not be electrified by this haunting, masterfully told story. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine a reader who will not be changed byit.

Brilliant, possibly perfect.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143113508
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/25/2008
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,309,367
Product dimensions:
4.60(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Julia Leigh was born in Sydney, Australia. Her writing has been compared to Melville and Conrad (San Francisco Chronicle), and she was included in the London Observer's list of 21 writers for the 21st century.

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Disquiet 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Bellajazz More than 1 year ago
I had not heard of this book or the author when I started to read it, so I had no preconceived notions about whether it is a good book or not. I could not put this book down. It is so well crafted with strong and expert word choices, it is a beauty. The plot and bad things are eerie enough but the story unfolds in a brilliant composition. I may even re-read it - it was that well constructed. I would recommend this (and have) as a great read.
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love2my3 More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't at all what I was expecting. Was hard to follow, and very...different. I'm sorry I bought it!
regina77004 More than 1 year ago
While Leigh is certainy an adept author, the story itself seemed disjointed (probably intentionally) with no real point. The characters certainly have issues and Leigh keeps you wanting to know more but in the end I just felt dropped.
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Cressida More than 1 year ago
Julia Leigh has constructed a well-crafted, enticing novella loaded with unpredictable moments where one event after another leaves readers hanging on the edge of their seats.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not at all what I expected. In fact, I was quite disappointed. After the hype it received in the Entertainment Weekly magazine, I thought for sure it would be more stimulating. Not only does the book serve no purpose at all, it's main character is extremely dull. Don't waste your time reading Disquiet. You will be sadly disappointed!