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The Erratics - Vicki Laveau-Harvie


Published: 21st May 2018
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The family secrets are only just beginning to unravel...

When her elderly mother is hospitalised after an accident, Vicki is summoned to her parents' isolated and run-down ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to care for her father. She has been estranged from her parents for many years (the reasons for which become quickly clear) and is horrified by what she discovers on her arrival.

For years her mother has suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness but carefully hidden her delusions and unpredictable behaviour behind a carefully guarded mask, and has successfully isolated herself and her husband from all their friends. But once in hospital her mask begins to crack and her actions leave everyone baffled and confused ... and eventually scared for their lives.

Meanwhile Vicki's father, who has been systematically starved and harruanged for years, and kept virtually a prisoner in his own home, begins to realise what has happened to him and embarks upon plans of his own to combat his wife.

The ensuing power play between the two takes a dramatic turn and leaves Vicki stuck in the middle of a bizzare and ludicrously strange family dilemma. All this makes for an intensly gripping, yet black-humoured family drama which will leave you on the edge of your seat.

About the Author

Vicki Laveau-Harvie is a former academic and translator. She has always believed in the power of the written word, the necessity of getting your tenses right and not using 'I' after a preposition. She lives in Gordon, Sydney, where she is working on a collection of love poetry, and encouraging the beginnings of a novel about betrayal of trust and vineyards. A believer in education and communication, she has taught ethics in a public primary school.


Not what I had expected, but a truly marvellous tale.


I heard about this book when the author was interviewed on ABC radio as I was driving. I ordered it on-line as soon as I could as it sounded fascinating. Once it arrived I had trouble putting it down, not least because I had been to many of the places mentioned and therefore had a real connection with the story as it unfolded.

Barton, ACT.


A fascinating memoir


This book is so good I bought a second one to give to a friend.



exceptional memoir


The Erratics is a memoir by Canadian-born Australian translator and author, Vicki Laveau-Harvie. It is the winner of the Finch Memoir Prize for 2018. In 2007, Vicki Laveau-Harvie and her sister, in response to the news that their mother has broken a hip, arrive in Okotoks, in Alberta's prairie lands. They come, despite the fact that they have both been disowned, disinherited and have no legal rights where their parents are concerned. Vicki comes all the way from Sydney, Australia. What they are hoping is that, now, while their mother in is rehab, they have the opportunity to have her mental health properly assessed, and have her placed in a facility. They are both quite convinced this is the only thing that will save their father. Vicki's last visit, a year previous, had left her very concerned for her father's welfare. She noted just how malnourished her father was, and felt sure that her mother was trying to advance his progress into the grave by starvation, and by mental and psychological abuse. Convincing her mother's medical team, however, is not straightforward: "The problem is that my mother is supernaturally persuasive. She makes anything sound reasonable. On her urging, Mormans have been known to consume alcohol." Most of the team looking after her hold her daughters in low regard. Vicki and her sister are well aware of their mother's power, having grown up under it. While their father never stood up to his wife on their behalves, they now try to ensure his safety, perhaps because "I have a vision of my mother's influence making its way through my father's mind, filling the tiny spaces left by the rounded contours of his brain, solidifying around the synapses until not even his thoughts are his own." And as Vicki's uncle tells her, "Your mother cuts a wide swathe of misery where she passes". Perhaps for Vicki, it comes down to applying her principle of pre-emptive karma: Instead of living fully, or to excess, she suspects that "on a corner of my soul




4.7 3


"If someone had told me this manuscript was by a young Margaret Attwood or Alice Munro, I wouldn't have been surprised. The bleak beauty of the Canadian landscape set against this wry memoir of a daughter's journey with her sister through their parents' decline into ill-health and dementia is an extraordinary read." --Candida Baker, author, The Amazing Life of Cats

"The Erratics grabbed me by the throat and never let go. Its sharp vinegary tone added a thrilling and bracing note to this portrayal of an extreme dysfunctional family. The writing has a visceral quality as well as a terrific sense of timing, irony and place - an unfamiliar and remote location far removed from Australia, but the author's tug back to Australia from this cold, inhospitable setting adds another dimension of contrast. There is a universality to the story, of ageing parents and conflicted children grappling with uncomfortable responsibilities. I loved it." --Caroline Baum, author, Only

ISBN: 9780648100850
ISBN-10: 0648100855
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 21st May 2018
Publisher: Finch Publishing
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 21.5 x 15.4  x 1.7
Weight (kg): 0.27