Good Reading : April 2017
UP CLOSE 1 T he instability of the ground beneath her feet became a metaphor for the fragility of life and human relationships when Wellington-based Australian author Tracy Farr was writing her new novel, The Hope Fault. Inspired in part by a scientific al or bulletin about a geological fault line in New Zealand’s South Island, The Hope Fault is set in fictional Cassetown – loosely based on the coastal region around Vasse, Busselton, Dunsborough and Cowaramup in Western Australia, where Tracy holidayed as a child and spent time in her 20s. The story is a subtly deceptive depiction of everyday life, in which it seems at first that nothing much happens. Yet so much is going on beneath the surface. When Tracy started writing the new novel she was determined to make it completely different from her critically acclaimed debut, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt. That story chronicles the experiences of a passionate, self-absorbed woman across several decades, but The Hope Fault focuses on relationships among an ensemble of characters who are confined to a house and its surrounds for three days. A secondary storyline offers a backward glimpse at the life of the family matriarch, who is nearing her 100th birthday. ‘I was determined that this novel would have an ensemble cast of characters, rather than that singular, insular character of the first novel,’ Tracy says.‘I wanted it to be contained 22 GOOD READING APRIL 2017 in a single place over a short period of time.’ During a two-hour in pe landscape on behaviour and mood. ‘Ten years after their marriage the im landsca en broke down, Paul and Iris and their extended family head down to their beach house for a long weekend in midwinter – to clean up and pack up, now that the house has been sold, and to have one last party,’ she says. ‘It’s a novel about family and, in particular, about steps and exes and in-laws and aunties and fairy godmothers. And it’s very much about parents and partners who are missing, and the people who replace them. ‘I see it as being about how we map and navigate relationships, particularly those relationships that are a little bit complex to categorise – they’re not straightforward, like wife, or son, or mother. I see it as celebrating extended, messy, non-linear family, exploring some of the complexities that families hide, forget or don’t want to talk about. Other key characters are Paul and Iris’s son, Kurt (about to turn 21), Paul’s new wife, Kristin, and their as yet unnamed baby girl, Paul’s twin sister Marti, who is also Iris’s best friend, and Marti’s 15-year-old daughter, Luce. GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU interview from her father’s home between Dunsborough and Busselton, Tracy says the new el explores the meaning of amily and home, and it considers the impact of weather and inte and hom e amily The new novel by WA author TRACY FARR is a celebration of an ‘extended, messy, non-linear family’ and the complex relationships that stitch us together. She shares the inspiration for The Hope Fault with MAUREEN EPPEN.