Review: Lightning by Felicity Volk


Title: Lightning

Author: Felicity Volk

Published: Picador July 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from July 11 to 12, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

“Stories are all we human beings are… Every time we open our mouths we are telling stories. And in the way we breathe and what we eat and when we are silent and when we find our tongues and how we move and when we pause and when we carry on. In all these ways we are telling our stories.” p178

Lightning by debut Australian author Felicity Volk is a compelling, lyrical journey of two strangers as they travel from New South Wales to Alice Springs. It explores identity, loss, grief and the healing that comes from discovering a connection to the past, present and future.

Persia has given birth at home to a stillborn daughter during the devastating Canberra bush fires ignited by lightning in 2003. As emotionally razed as the landscape around her, Persia flees with her nameless child swaddled in a suitcase. Stranded in Grafton with no real destination in mind, she accepts the offer of a ride from Ahmed, a refugee with his own secret baggage, on his way to Alice Springs.

Lightning is not only the story of Persia and Ahmed but also the people they meet, the land they travel, of strangers and ancestors. Through wind, fire, earth and water, stories of life and death are told and shared and lived.

The stories Ahmed tells are inspired by the names of the towns the pair travel through on their journey to Alice Springs. Grafton leads to a tale of a grieving man who sews a patch of his dead lover’s skin to his own so that he may always keep some part of her with him, Bald Nob the story of the death and rebirth of love, while Tenterfield inspires a tale of a ‘tented field’ that absorbs the grief of a young woman. How much truth or fiction each story holds is unknowable, though each holds at least some of both.

It is some time before Persia shares her own stories with Ahmed, of her life, of her family, of her daughter. Her own journey of grief is a private one and for Persia, naming it will mean she has begun to let go when she so desperately wants to hold on.

Lightning is a beautifully crafted novel and an impressive debut from Volk. I would expect that it will be one to receive the attention of the 2013 Miles Franklin or Stella Award committee’s.

Available to Purchase from

PanMacmillan I BoomerangBooks I Booktopia I AmazonKindle

Via Booko



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patty
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 07:25:00

    I love the cover…it makes me want to read it!



  2. Felicity
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 20:33:33

    Patty, the cover is the lovely work of the very talented Sandy Cull. I hope you do read Lightning! Warm wishes, Felicity



  3. Teddyree
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 12:19:50

    Beautiful review Shelleyrae, and even though I know it will be a heartbreaking read for me, I’m still going to!



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 22, 2013 @ 13:35:31

      I think this has the potential to be quite tough for you Sheree, but I think you will also appreciate Persia’s journey more than most.



  4. Jennifer Lydon
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 03:18:06

    A very good review…thank you. Probably not a book I would have chosen without your review.



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