The Monster of Her Age by Danielle Binks

‘Growing up, Lottie looked just the same to me as she did in the movies.’

Ellie Marsden has returned home, to Hobart, because her grandmother Lottie Lovinger is dying. Can Ellie make peace with her grandmother? Ellie is seventeen now, but she is still living with the trauma of her movie appearance with Lottie as a child.

‘Sadness has stages.’

As we wait with Ellie, as her grandmother lies in hospital, we learn about the infamous Lovinger dynasty. Their home in Battery Point is on the tourist trail, and every few hours a bus load of tourists is treated to a potted history of the Lovinger thespian fame. And Ellie, cast as a monster in the horror movie with Lottie, bullied at school and angry with both her mother and her grandmother is trying to separate person from deed. Ellie’s mother, Lottie’s ex-husbands, Ellie’s cousin Yael are some of the people who have gathered at Lovinger House.

Ellie meets Riya, who invites her to a meeting of a feminist film horror film collective. Ellie starts to look at horror movies through different eyes, questioning some of what she had come to believe. And she and Riya find their own space.

Ms Binks has set this novel in a fictional Australian film industry, one in which Australian film stars were successful without needing to flee to Hollywood. In this world, Lottie Lovinger is a big star, known and respected locally. Ellie comes to appreciate that her grandmother and the film star had separate identities (albeit with a degree of overlap).

There are some delightful characters in this novel, including several from diverse backgrounds. I enjoyed the way that Ms Binks drew the different elements (and people) together.

I enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to reading ‘The Year the Maps Changed’.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith