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Bereft Paperback – 5 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857386549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857386540
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 641,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A beautiful novel ... it is barely possible to put the book down' Debra Adelaide.

'A dark brooding story of war, family secrets and a man's search for justice' Michael Robotham.

'I hammered through Bereft in a day; I didn't want to be away from it' Evie Wyld, author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.

'Chris Womersley has written a narrative that grips like a dingo's jaws ... This is a distinguishable novel' The Independent. 'This period literary thriller, with its dark, compelling, atmospheric writing and strong themes of atonement, is a book to read in a single sitting' New Books Magazine.

'This has to go down as one of the best novels of the year ... this is one novel you should definitely have high up on the list to discover. The sooner you read it, the longer it will be staying with you' We Love This Book. 'Just once in a while, a thriller comes along that is so good it takes your breath away. Womersley's second novel does that in a heartbeat' Daily Mail.

'Bereft is an other-worldly and utterly compelling story of grief and loss' Bookgroupinfo. 'a timeless, concise telling of an excellent story. It's one of those narrations where every word has been strongly considered, but that's never on show' Bookbag.

'an original book ... a refreshing change from the normal run of crime books' CrimeSquad. 'excellent evocative writing' Historical Novel Society.

'The beauty of it is in the prose: concrete, detailed, yet fast-paced' Black Sheep Dances. 'It's the mystery of this novel accompanied with such vivid imagery that makes this a compelling read' Buzz.

'This is a haunting, perturbing novel which grabs the reader and doesn't let go after the last page has been turned' Press Association. 'If you liked The Road, then this is for you' The Journal Online.


"A rich, gripping tale of love, loss, conflict and salvation . . . I had that very rare experience of wanting to read it again, almost immediately." (Australian Bookseller+Publisher) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Curiosity Killed The Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
World War I has ended and Quinn Walker returns to the small Australian town he ran away from so many years ago. He ran from a nightmare. Accused of murder and rape, of his own sister. Returning home to a town that wishes him dead, he hides in the hills and befriends an orphan girl.

Womersley's prose paints the perfect picture of the world inside these pages. It is fairly concise, not one of those overly descriptive tomes but the words seem to be spot on, from the light falling in his mother's room to the smells of the Australian bush.

The relationship between a grown man and a pre-pubescent girl, whilst touch at time, does give the novel a sense of unease. That the idea of child abuse is placed in your mind in the first few pages and there are constant reminders of the accusations against Quinn, makes it hard not to doubt him. The character of Sadie is quirky, strong and yet vulnerable underneath, yet I found myself unable to connect to Quinn. For the horrors he has seen both at home and in war, I would expect more raw emotion but Bereft is an oddly quiet account.

Bereft was awarded ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year and Indie Award for Best Fiction Novel in 2011 and has been shortlisted for numerous other Australian prizes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. H. Healy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 May 2012
Format: Paperback
Quinn Walker returns to the small town of Flint, in New South Wales, Australia, in 1919, after fighting in World War I. He had left his hometown ten years earlier under a dark cloud, running away from his home and family after being accused of a terrible crime. Now returned, he bears the physical and mental scars of his years in the war, and hides out in the hills surrounding Flint, looking out over the town, pondering his life as it is now, and why he has returned to this place. He meets a young girl in the hills, Sadie Fox, who seems to have a deep knowledge and understanding of what it is that Quinn fears. Gradually a connection grows between the pair, and Quinn is moved to action.

After reading only a few pages of Bereft, I was impressed with the author's beautiful use of language. It is an atmospheric story, and in many ways a dark read. The years spent fighting in the war have made their permanent mark on Quinn, and as he lurks in the hills over Flint, he is overtaken by memories and visions of the trenches, imagining that a fellow soldier has appeared alongside him, then moments later, realising he is alone, that it was just his mind playing tricks.

'It was odd to be alone. During the war he grew used to the press of many bodies, to the whiff of other men and their whispering hearts of fear. They were a brotherhood of terror huddled in the trenches...He didn't fear death. He imagined there were few miseries he hadn't experienced...'

The author writes starkly and honestly about the realities facing the men, like Quinn, returning from the war, damaged, battered by their experiences, injured and exhausted; '...their unguarded selves were delicate, unwieldy creatures beneath their uniforms...
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
Many historical fiction titles tend to take the reader back quite a way time wise so that you're clear of anything within living memory (although this setting is close to being outside that remit) so when this title from Chris arrived I really was looking forward to it to read a story set with a character suffering the aftermath of the effects of time within the trenches of the first world war. What Chris' writing does is take the reader to a setting that is almost cinematic with a principle character that you can not only imagine but see as if they were flesh and blood.

Add to this a wonderful story which whilst quite short, fulfils the key points for me as a reader with a solid character, well thought out description and an overall arc that presents a tale that keeps you interested from start to finish. All in this is a wonderful read and whilst I think it may be missed by a lot of others it's well worth your time to search it out. Great stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nikki-ann VINE VOICE on 24 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
In 1919, a soldier of the Great War, Quinn Walker returns to Australia where the Spanish flu epidemic is raging. He is drawn back to Flint, a small town in New South Wales from where he fled ten years previously having been accused of murder. The townsmen, including his own father and uncle, have never forgiven him and have vowed to hang him should he return. Aware of this, Quinn keeps to the town's surrounding hills, unsure of what to do next.

A young girl named Sadie Fox finds Quinn above the town and a bond is formed. Sadie seems to know, and share, Quinn's darkest fear. In fact, she seems to know a lot. With Sadie's help, Quinn learns the only way he can lay his past to rest.

Bereft is written in third-person narrative, subjectively following Quinn's actions and train of thought. Quinn is damaged by the Great War, not just physically but mentally too, and we follow him back to his hometown where his survival is dependant on not being seen. His memories of what happened in Flint ten years earlier and of what happened during the Great War are never far away.

Sadie's discovery of Quinn sparks an unusual, if slightly uneasy, relationship between him, a veteran of the Great War, and her, a lone young orphan girl. Some might call their relationship "odd", and to some extend it is, but it is an entirely innocent one. They see each other as the one they miss.

Despite it being such an atmospheric, haunting and grim story, Bereft is beautifully written, but it did have me wondering at times if certain things were real. Bereft is not a "whodunnit" (as I think that part is pretty obvious early on), but makes for compelling reading with its story of survival, guilt and grief.
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