A heart-breaking story of two warring parents - and the innocent child caught in the middle.
Garry Hartshorn and Softie Monaghan were never love's young dream. Not even on their wedding day.
Softie was sophisticated, a career woman, who owned a nice apartment overlooking St Kilda Beach. Garry had a few rough edges, plus one failed marriage and an assortment of jobs under his belt. But Softie's body clock was ticking, and Garry wanted children ...
So they got married, and produced the only thing they ever had in common. Matilda.
Now, two years later, their golden-haired child is at the centre of a bitter custody battle. Both parents insist that her well-being is the only thing they care about. Yet, in truth, Matilda was always the one most likely to become lost.
About the Author
Caroline Overington is the author of two non-fiction books, Only in New York and Kickback, which won the Blake Dawson Prize for Business Literature. She has twice won a Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism, and has also won the Sir Keith Murdoch Award for Journalistic Excellence.
She has written four novels: Ghost Child, I Came to Say Goodbye, Matilda is Missing and Sisters of Mercy (out November 2012). She lives in Bondi with her husband and their young twins.
What surprised me most about my reading of Matilda is Missing was that I was reading it at all. If I were flicking through a newspaper or reading a magazine and I came across a story about the family court, or a grandparent's right to access their grandchildren, or equal rights for fathers in divorce cases, I wouldn't read beyond the headlines.
Well, this is the power of the novel in action. Yes, Caroline Overington was the social welfare reporter for The Australian newspaper. Yes, she brought to bear all of her first hand knowledge and experience of the workings of the family court. Yes, her story is probably based on actual cases. But her articles were informed by such things, too, and I never read them. If she were to write a brilliant article tomorrow on the subject covered in Matilda is Missing, I wouldn't read that either.
I admit here that I had no intention of reading Matilda is Missing. I picked it up on a whim, curious to see what all the fuss was about after the success of Overington's last novel, I Came to Say Goodbye. It was compelling stuff. I was won over.
Matilda is Missing contains a story within a story, narrated by the very likeable, Barry. The framing story describes the heartbreak of a grandmother, Pat, Barry's wife, who is barred from seeing her grandchildren and covers her very public fight for access. And within this frame, when an old friend, and former Family Court Judge, asks Barry to listen to recordings of interviews with a court appointed psychologist, we have the story of Softest Sound Monaghan, known as Softie (hippie parents) and Garry Hartshorn and their fight for custody of Matilda.
There is no right way to raise a child. It is and always will be a matter of dispute but who is to say who is right and who is wrong when two ordinary people with fairly similar notions of child raising claim to be the best person to look after their child?
Matilda is Missing is a gripping read which takes an unflinching look at the impact Family Court decisions have on children, parents, grandparents and on those making the decisions themselves. That is, Matilda is Missing examines a subject we only ever consider when it is too late.
Click here to read Caroline's answers to our Six Sharp Questions
Published: 1st November 2012
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 13.3 x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.26