Salt Creek, 1855, is situated at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. Stanton Finch has moved his large family there after his business failed in Adelaide. Fifteen-year-old Hester and her siblings enjoy the company of the few travellers that pass along the nearby stock-route. There is young artist, Charles and the Ngarrindjeri people who they have dispossessed. An Aboriginal boy, Tully, is their friend and over the passing years becomes part of the family.Stanton Finch hopes to restore the family fortunes and the family’s good name. But his ideas fail, leaving him deeper in debt.
Caring for the family falls to young Hester Finch when her mother descends into melancholia and spends time in her bedroom staring into space.
Stanton Finch attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people’s homes and livelihoods and when tragedy befalls the family it begins a chain of events that tear the family apart. I notice authors sometimes neglect to mention Aboriginal people in historical novels. It is as if they are ghost people which is not the case in this story. It is wonderful to read about the Ngarrindjeri people and understand more about their lives in the nineteenth century and the history of their culture.
Salt Creek, with its beautiful cover, by Australian author Lucy Treloar is narrated by Hester Finch throughout as she looks back and tells the story of her life and her family. The sense of place in the novel comes alive with the narrative intersperesed with descriptions of the stark and beautiful region of the Coorong.
“Some things collapse slow, and cannot always be rebuilt, and even if a thing can be remade it will never be as it was.” (From the back cover).
This is a novel that will stay with me for a long time, one to be reread and savoured over the passing years. It is the best new novel I have read in a long time.
One response to “Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar”
Reblogged this on what elise wrote and commented:
I read Salt Creek last year and on rereading it I enjoyed it as much as the first time. It was my favourite book in 2016.