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The Place on Dalhousie

I’ll be honest and confess that novels about fractured family relationships with a bunch of stubborn, vulnerable characters get me every, single time and Melina Marchetta’s “The Place on Dalhousie” is no exception.

This novel does have quite a large cast of characters and other reviews have suggested this could be a little disorientating, but I loved every one of them and felt that they all deserved to be there. Especially our main character, Rosie Gennaro who does not suffer fools gladly. Fierce and stubborn as hell with a heart so raw with grief, Rosie is in a perpetual state of shielding her vulnerability from the judgement of others and walking a tightrope of impetuous decisions.

Rosie has lost both of her parents and is now facing the potential loss of her family home, the place on Dalhousie Street, to her step-mother, Martha.

She does a runner to Queensland, leaving this fractured mess behind and it’s here, in the middle of a Queensland flood that she meets my second favourite character, Jimmy Hailler – one of Rosie’s best impetuous decisions so far but like so many, doesn’t necessarily pan out perfectly.

Two years after Rosie and Jimmy meet, she returns home to Dalhousie. Rosie finds Martha juggling her finances and struggling to find a way to keep the house and with Rosie coming to terms with her new responsibilities, so begins a stand-off between two women who refuse to move out of the home they both lay claim to.

Like Georgia Blain’s “Between a Wolf and a Dog,” this novel is such a beautiful and profound exploration of just how difficult family relationships can be.

When the hackles are up and hearts are heaving with grief and regrets, how do we find a way to shed the cloak of stubbornness? How do we expose our vulnerabilities and flaws and navigate a path to forgiveness?

Reviewed by Anna