The Driveway Has Two Sides: Sara Marchant

So many books, so little time …

The Idle Woman

★★★

Time for another Fairlight Modern novella! This time we’re off to a remote island on the east coast of America, to a world of crisp winter winds and pines, and sudden summer influxes of tourists; a world where the year-round residents all know everyone else’s secrets and newcomers are watched with suspicion. And the gossiping islanders have plenty to occupy them now, because an old rental cottage has just been sold to the young and beautiful Delilah. The neighbours wonder about her story (and her morals), gleefully scandalised while Delilah rolls up her sleeves and gets on with the business of transforming her little cottage into a home. But she swiftly realises that she isn’t the only mystery on the island. What about the man who lives in the yellow house next door, with whom she shares a driveway, but who hardly ever comes out into the world?

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The Legacy of Beauregarde by Rosa Fedele

‘Curiosity is a crafty thing, a devious entity.’

The Seminary, an iconic building in Hunters Hill, Sydney. Designed for the Catholic Church in 1877, vacant since 1970, and now in need of complete restoration. The novel opens in 1990 when the building is bought by Richard and Gordana Lemann, a wealthy couple with plans to transform the building into a modern family home. Next door, in what was once the caretaker’s cottage, lives Marcela Beauregarde. Gordana has grandiose plans for The Seminary, and wants the transformation filmed. Gordana also wants to acquire Marcela’s cottage.

Marcela is not going anywhere. She has her own connection to The Seminary and its secrets. And, over the course of the novel, those secrets will be revealed. It’s difficult to write much about this novel without introducing spoilers. The story itself is complicated and convoluted, with more than a few twists. There are quite a few characters to try to keep track of and, for me at least, some of their actions seemed inexplicable. I ended up reading the novel twice (which helped), as did reading Ms Fedele’s first novel ‘The Red Door’. While the two novels contain separate stories, several of the characters from ‘The Red Door’ appear in ‘The Legacy of Beauregarde’ and the ending of ‘The Legacy of Beauregarde’ made more sense to me after reading ‘The Red Door’.

If you like complicated story lines, moving from one point of view to another, involving characters with dark secrets, you may enjoy this novel. There are quite a few melodramatic flourishes as well. As with her first novel, Ms Fedele has included some of her own magnificent drawings, of characters or aspects of the setting.

While I didn’t enjoy this novel quite as much as ‘The Red Door’, the ending ensures that I really want to see a third novel to tie up at least some of the loose ends.

Note: My thanks to Ms Fedele for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

#AWW2018