Review: The Newcomer by Laura Elizabeth Woollett

 

Title: The Newcomer

Author: Laura Elizabeth Woollett

Published: 2nd July 2021, Scribe Publications

Status: Read July 2021 courtesy Scribe Publications

 

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Loosely inspired by the 2002 murder of a woman on Norfolk Island, The Newcomer is a provocative literary crime novel by Laura Elizabeth Woollett.

Paulina Novak, even at 28, is a wild child. Reckless, self absorbed and brazen, with an eating disorder and a drinking problem, she ditched her life in Sydney for a fresh start on the tiny island of Fairfolk, off the eastern coast of Australia. Fairfolk doesn’t take kindly to ‘mainie’s’, especially to someone like Paulina who is wilfully disruptive and openly contemptuous of the insular community, so when two years later, on the day before Paulina’s thirtieth birthday, her body is found under a sheet of black plastic in a field, few are surprised.

Her mother, Judy, waiting in a hotel room to share lunch with her daughter, however is heartbroken, and determined that Paulina’s killer be bought to justice. Given the size of the island community, despite the plethora of possible suspects, Judy expects that the case will be solved quickly, but she it’s two long years before she gets answers.

Moving between Paulina’s past and Judy’s present, the narrative is as much a character study as it is a novel about a crime. Woollett explores interesting questions about mental health, trauma, misogyny, belonging, and victimhood.

Woollett doesn’t present a flattering portrayal of the victim. Paulina is a character that really doesn’t invite sympathy, and I found myself in the uncomfortable position of thinking to myself that her murder seemed almost inevitable given her behaviours. I think that in large part this is the point of The Newcomer, to have the reader confront their unconscious bias with regards to victimhood, because of course it’s not Paulina’s behaviour that is responsible for her death, it is the behaviour of her killer.

Judy too is a complex character, with her own history of trauma, though she is far more sympathetic. A caring mother who has done her best to support her mercurial adult daughter, she’s devastated by Paulina’s death. Woollett portrays her grief in what I felt was a realistic, if sometimes uncomfortable, manner.

Challenging, bold, and poignant, The Newcomer is not an easy read, but it is definitely thought-provoking.

+++++++

Available from Scribe Publications

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

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Moore
    Jul 21, 2021 @ 23:26:40

    It sounds good.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Carla
    Jul 22, 2021 @ 08:45:49

    Excellent review! It sounds like this would definitely be a tough read.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. WendyW
    Jul 22, 2021 @ 11:49:05

    Wow, powerful review, this book sounds fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. sydneyeditor1
    Jul 22, 2021 @ 20:48:22

    Oh hello, this is new to me, as is the author. I am bingeing true crime podcasts right now, so the addition that it’s loosely based on a true case definitely has my attention/

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Tina
    Jul 23, 2021 @ 01:50:32

    I just requested it throough NetGalley, actually it was a “wish for it” item now. It sounds good. I seriously need to haunt Australian blogs to see upcoming titles as NetGalley is the only place I can find the titles.

    Hoping to join in on the Australian Reading challenge next year…if I can get the books!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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