THE TRAPEZE ACT

North & South - - Review - SHARON STEPHEN­SON

LIBBY AN­GEL (TEXT PUB­LISH­ING, $37)

If you think your fam­ily is crazy, just imag­ine how Loretta feels. The daugh­ter of an ec­cen­tric Dutch trapeze artist and one of Ade­laide’s most suc­cess­ful (and lusted af­ter) crim­i­nal bar­ris­ters, Loretta is for­ever haunted by her fam­ily’s flam­boy­ant his­tory. There’s also a brother who likes to set fire to his school, and the shadow of Loretta’s great­grand­fa­ther, who mi­grated to colo­nial Aus­tralia in search of ele­phants. If it sounds fab­u­lously con­vo­luted, that’s be­cause it is – but first-time au­thor-poet Libby An­gel ex­pertly shifts be­tween the var­i­ous story arcs. Of course, it all starts to go hor­ri­bly wrong, leav­ing Loretta to find her own way. But An­gel’s feisty voice and eye for the idio­syn­cra­sies of 1960s Aus­tralia mean this is bloody bonza, mate.

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