Review: Unexploded

unexplodedUnexploded by Alison MacLeod
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Penguin Books Australia via NetGalley

This is not the typical book I would read though that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the experience. What was appealing to me, in the first place, was probably the cover though now that I really looked it at, I realised that I really didn’t know what I was looking at. A woman with 40s hairstyle sitting on the beach is semitone (or is it sepia? It’s hard to tell since I read a digital version) was what drew me. However, now that I’ve read the book, I can see what the cover is portraying and it is a dark sort of picture.

I experienced strangest sensation in reading this book, just as per the title, there is this sense of quiet suspense throughout the novel… exactly like the stillness before a huge storm –you can sense the storm coming but it’s not here yet and when / how it will exactly break, you’d never know. It was oddly peaceful and highly strung at the same time. There were little bursts of drizzles in certain spots with overflowing effects that contributed to the overall conclusion.

Evelyn is someone identifiable. She fell into the groove of life –a certain track of life and now felt that she is stuck, unable to change, to grow, to be who she was meant to be. What would it take to derail oneself, to find oneself, to live life fully? I’m sure we’ve all felt some sort of monotone life, desired changes, and maybe took a step or to or not to change it. Evelyn could not really take any action –she’s tried before, and yet again, she could only invest in the smallest act of rebelliousness. She was unable to face up against the social etiquette and convention of the time yet wishing these constraints away. Truly, how many of us (even today) dares to take up this challenge?

“Her problem was a quiet sense of superiority that had masked her failure to live in all but the most conventional of ways while quietly disdaining convention.”

What was really frustrating is the problem they faced in their marriage is the same problem / issue we usually find annoying in romance novels – Communication Breakdown. There are, of course, other issues surrounding it but most issues will be halfway amended by opening one’s heart and willingness to communicate. This is really what it boils down to, as each issue are brought to light, the sense of betrayal heightened, hearts hardened, and yet each turned outwards rather than each other.

“We are broken, he now understood, by everything we cannot say.”

The way the ending was brought about was utterly astonishing in the tools that was utilised. It was rather horrid to my maternal instinct and yet it all made perfect sense. Maybe it is our human nature, in whatever stage, which is inherently disturbing. What would you do to keep your world together?

This is one of those novels to read slowly & savour. It wasn’t an easy read due to its darker nature –a pervading sort of sadness and frustration. It’s worth a read for some of the phrase-gems though and it’s what I appreciated most about reading this novel. I’ve shared some here without too much spoilers and I’ll close with a last note about reading:

”To imagine wasn’t to escape but to go deeper; to see through to the secret life of the world.”

Thank you, Penguin Books Australia via NetGalley for this opportunity to read & review

View all my reviews

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