Review: The Grass Castle by Karen Viggers

Title: The Grass Castle

Author: Karen Viggers

Published: Allen  & Unwin February 2014

Status: Read from January 27 to 29, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Grass Castle is a quiet, introspective novel exploring the themes of displacement and belonging, grief and healing.

Abby Hunter is a struggling PhD student who prefers the isolation of her fieldwork in the Brindabella mountain ranges to the bustling activity of the university lab. Wary of relationships since her mothers death, she is content with the company of the Kangaroo’s she is studying, but a chance meeting with elderly matriarch Daphne Norrington, and the gentle persistence of journalist Cameron Barlow, penetrates her reserve and Abby is finally forced to deal with her tragic past.

Unfortunately I found I didn’t particularly connect with Abby, she is too passive and reserved for my tastes, and while I had some sympathy for her difficult past I didn’t really understand the choices she had made since, nor some of her behaviour during the story. I did admire eighty five year old Daphne, who weathered so much tragedy in her life, including the compulsory acquisition of her home by the government, and the deaths of her son and husband. The friendship between the women develops from their connection to the land and their mutual need for both for a confessor of past trauma and support in the present.

The romance between Abby and Cameron is low key, part of Abby’s journey rather than a focal plot point. There are political elements in the novel in regards to the efficacy of kangaroo culling, indigenous land rights and media/political spin. I found them a little intrusive at times, even though I largely agreed with the sentiments.

This is a reflective novel that mediates on the need to accept and learn from the past and though The Grass Castle didn’t fully engage me, I could appreciate the way Viggers evoked the setting, in both the past and the present, and the emotions in her characters.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko I AmazonUS


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mystica
    Feb 05, 2014 @ 00:49:25

    Sounds like a story you need to take time over.



  2. Lily B
    Feb 06, 2014 @ 10:26:16

    The story sounds deep, but not connecting with the character probably ruins it a bit 😦



  3. cleopatralovesbooks
    Feb 09, 2014 @ 05:26:59

    A great review which really puts across well why you didn’t enjoy this book as much as you might have.



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