Review: Echolalia by Briohny Doyle

 

Title: Echolalia

Author: Briohny Doyle

Published: 1st June 2021, Vintage Australia

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

I’m not sure how best to describe Echolalia by Briohny Doyle, perhaps as a literary domestic suspense. Set in an outer suburban Australia the timeline of Echolalia shifts ‘Before’ and ‘After’ the night Emma Cormac left her infant son alone by a dried up lake.

In the before, Emma is married to Robert Cormac, the princely only son of local wealthy construction developers, and installed in the expansive home he built for them. It’s the stuff of fairytales for Emma, who is from a far less affluent background, which only begins to sour with the birth of their second child, a son who is quickly diagnosed with a hereditary disorder, and viewed as a blot on the Cormac family name. Seeking redemption for what is perceived as her failure to provide a suitable heir, barely eighteen months later Emma presents her husband wth a healthy son, Robbie.

After, Emma’s children, Clem and Arthur, are young adults who have not seen their mother since the night baby Robbie died. While Arthur has made a life for himself far from the influence of the Cormac’s, Clem remains haunted by all she does not know.

Echolalia is a bleak tale, commenting on climate change, capitalism, class, privilege, legacy, patriarchy, trauma and motherhood. I found the ‘Before’ to be more compelling than the ‘After’, which feels somewhat unresolved.

Emma’s emotions are viscerally portrayed as she becomes increasingly fragile, both emotionally and physically. Her sense of self already vague, it disintegrates under the expectations of the family she has into married to. Drifting unheeded towards the inevitable tragedy, it’s clear Emma is suffering from post natal depression which tips into psychosis.

In their relationship with Emma, while her husband Robert is perhaps at best myopic, his mother Pat is wilfully insensitive, and Robert’s cousin, Shane, is pointedly cruel. These attitudes are also echoed in their business dealings as the wield their wealth and power in ways which are both careless and deliberate. In the aftermath the Cormac’s accept no responsibility, Emma and the loss of Robbie, a convenient scapegoat for everything that then befalls them.

With its crisp and evocative prose, Echolalia is a raw, poignant and unsettling novel that left me uncomfortable, but thoughtful.

+++++++

Available from Penguin Books Australia 

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joyousreads
    Jun 23, 2021 @ 00:32:04

    This sounds like a compelling read, with a lot of important social issues. Might have to go hunting for a copy!

    Like

    Reply

  2. Mareli Thalwitzer
    Jun 23, 2021 @ 03:53:31

    A bit bleak yes and the type of novel I will stay clear of. Infant death always upsets me terribly. But your review was lovely Shelly-Rae.

    Like

    Reply

  3. sydneyeditor1
    Jun 26, 2021 @ 20:42:54

    I honestly don’t know if this is book is for me, or rather, I have to be ready to want to dive into something so bleak — but I can see why you enjoyed it from your review.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  5. Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins
    Jul 08, 2021 @ 10:35:30

    Ooooft, this sounds SO GOOD. I really enjoyed The Island Will Sink, I think Doyle has a real talent for nudging us to think differently.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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