Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Review: The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton

Beloved Australian author Tim Winton's latest novel is a timely mediation on toxic masculinity that packs a powerful--though occasionally depressing--punch. Jaxie Clackton is a teenage boy whose life is altered forever when he discovers the body of his abusive father crushed beneath the family car. Believing that he'll be accused of murder, Jaxie packs his things and decides to find refuge with the one person who understands him. To reach her means a long trek through the saltlands--harsh, dangerous country--and it's a journey that yields surprising results when he encounters an isolated hut and an eccentric Irish priest who believes that Jaxie is an instrument of God ...

This was a novel that was in beautiful and disgusting in equal parts. Winton has a knack of getting inside the minds of his young male protagonists and sharing that journey with the reader. Jaxie's life has been shaped by the worst kind of masculine influences, as has the lives of other key characters though in a different ways. Fintan is an entertaining character and the one who might just be able to help Jaxie find the peace that he is so longing for. Or if nothing else, he demonstrates such patience with Jaxie that it certainly has an impact on the young man, particularly at the novel's brutal climax. 

The novel is written in a style that is just as brutal as the landscape it describes and it works all the better for that.

Recommended. 

This novel was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018