Sonya Hartnett's third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia's finest writers.
Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they'll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they've moved to. But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there's something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.
'Hartnett does a wonderful job of depicting the sometimes brutal world of childhood that runs parallel to, and occasionally intersects with, the world of adults.' Books and Publishing
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Colt and Bastian have all the coolest toys in the suburban neighbourhood they’ve just moved to. Bikes that make local boys envious, and a new swimming pool that’s a social magnet. But something makes it hard for the brothers to make friends and be accepted. Is it something to do with their dentist father Rex and his over-friendly manner? Freya, on the cusp of womanhood, does not think so. She thinks Rex is wonderful, even in his barbecue apron. She likes the way he’s a smiling father, not a drunk like her own dad.
This is a deft, unsettling story that rumbles with menace like a distant electric storm. It’s a dark edgy tale of class, submerged and repressed desire, suburban rumours, marital disappointments and tensions, as fragile adolescents try on the postures of adulthood.
About the Author
Sonya Hartnett's work has won numerous Australian and international literary prizes and has been published around the world. Uniquely, she is acclaimed for her stories for adults, young adults and children. Her accolades include the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Of A Boy), The Age Book of the Year (Of A Boy), the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (Thursday's Child), the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for both Older and Younger Readers (Forest, The Silver Donkey, The Ghost's Child, The Midnight Zoo and The Children of the King), the Victorian Premier's Literary Award (Surrender), shortlistings for the Miles Franklin Award (for both Of a Boy and Butterfly) and the CILP Carnegie Medal (The Midnight Zoo). Hartnett is also the first Australian recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (2008).
In 2014, Hartnett published a new novel for adults, Golden Boys, and her third picture book, The Wild One.
Praise for Butterfly: 'Exquisitely written - you end up re-reading sentence after sentence - and unforgettable.' - Nick Hornby 'A heart-stopping representation of adolescent girlhood, as strange and riddling and true as fiction gets.' - The Age 'Lucid yet beautiful, compassionate yet unflinching, enigmatic yet touching, sometimes tragic sometimes funny ...a writer at the height of her powers.' - Weekend Australian