Last Day in the Dynamite Factory by Annah Faulkner

This is Annah Faulkner’s second novel, and I’ll be reading her first shortly.  Once I picked this novel up, I became immersed in it.  Highly recommended.

Last Day in the Dynamite Factory by Annah Faulkner

‘Time is no buffer against memory.’

Forty-eight year old Christopher Bright has been married to Diane for almost twenty-five years, has two adult children and a successful career as a Brisbane architect specialising in restoration work.  But when his adoptive mother dies, his world becomes far less comfortable.  Chris reads his adoptive mother’s journal and discovers the identity of his birth father.  While Chris has always wanted to know who his birth father was, once he does know it raises many more questions for him.

‘Some knowledge doesn’t add to our understanding of life, it just diminishes it.’

Chris becomes restless.  He doesn’t feel that Diane is as supportive as she should be (or as he needs her to be).  He wants to make some changes to his life and work, so he takes leave and goes to stay at Coolum for a while.  Coolum has its own place in Chris’s history: he witnessed the death of his adoptive brother here, and almost drowned when he was just a child.  Chris sees both beauty and danger in this landscape.  He also finds an old friend.

Chris returns to Brisbane, resolved to learn more about his past and his birth mother.  His father seems either unwilling or unable to give him much information.  Christ continues his search, stressing his own relationship with Diane and his children.

I picked this novel up, and couldn’t bear to put it down.  Much of my focus was on Chris: would he find the information he was seeking, would it be enough for him, could his marriage and business partnerships survive?  But I also wondered about Diane, and their children: how does a family manage in circumstances where revisiting the past seems likely to overwhelm the present?  And the secret that Chris has been keeping about his adoptive brother’s death – what a burden for a small child to carry.  So many secrets, so many mysteries.

And, what will happen in the end?  It’s well worth reading in order to find out.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith