A mesmerizing first novel about trust, dependence, and fear, from a major new writer
Ruth is widowed, her sons are grown, and she lives in an isolated beach house outside of town. Her routines are few and small. One day a stranger arrives at her door, looking as if she has been blown in from the sea. This woman—Frida—claims to be a care worker sent by the government. Ruth lets her in.
Now that Frida is in her house, is Ruth right to fear the tiger she hears on the prowl at night, far from its jungle habitat? Why do memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency? How far can she trust this mysterious woman, Frida, who seems to carry with her own troubled past? And how far can Ruth trust herself?
The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane’s hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about aging, love, trust, dependence, and fear; about processes of colonization; and about things (and people) in places they shouldn’t be. Here is a new writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to describe the mysterious workings of our minds.
"The Night Guest is a stealthily stunning debut novel by Australian writer Fiona McFarlane. Ruth is an elderly widow living alone by the beach, believing that a tiger is visiting her home in the night. She is confused and off-kilter, though managing well enough until Frida arrives, announcing she is there as a caregiver, assigned to Ruth by the government. No Mary Poppins, her surprising appearance and takeover of Ruth's life lead to questions about truth, reality, loyalty and friendship. These two complicated and compelling characters drew me into their lives and left me both shaken and awed. "
TC VIB (very impressive book)! That means it’s a true stand-out in a season of many excellent and compelling new books.