Friends and Dark Shapes by Kavita Bedford

‘The year after my father died, I move into a share house.’

Three friends (Sami, Niki, and our unnamed narrator) move into a share house in Redfern in inner Sydney and select a fourth person to join them. A man is selected: gender balance is important. He is nicknamed Bowerbird.

What follows is a series of vignettes of life in this group house over the following year. The vignettes are both observations (of life in a share house, of life in Redfern) and reflections (on life approaching thirty, on connecting with others).

While my own experiences of living in a share house are confined to my teenage years, I recognised some of the tensions (house cleaning, anyone?), and the general angst of trying to find one’s own place in a world which seems to have a different focus. And what constitutes home?

‘The phrase ‘remember when…’ did not yet have a place in our conversations.’

This is a novel which invites an older reader to reflect on their own experiences and a younger reader to wonder about their own future. Time elapses, life experiences accrue, what once seems important might change. The novel ends, and I wonder what might happen next both in the lives of the people we meet and in the suburb of Redfern.

‘Is that true: is a feeling about a city also a feeling about oneself?’

I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith