An extraordinary literary novel set in Newcastle in 1989, about the devastating fault lines that can run in families.
After a year apart, Maryanne returns to her husband, Roy, bringing their eight-year-old son Daniel and his teenage sister Freya with her. The family move from Sydney to Newcastle, where Roy has bought a derelict house on the coast. As Roy painstakingly patches the holes in the floorboards and plasters over cracks in the walls, Maryanne believes, for a while, that they can rebuild a life together.
But Freya doesn’t want a fresh start - she just wants out - and Daniel drifts around the sprawling, run-down house in a dream, infuriating his father, who soon forgets the promises he has made.
Some cracks can never be smoothed over, and tension grows between Roy and Maryanne until their uneasy peace is ruptured - with devastating consequences.
About the Author
Michael Sala was born in the Netherlands in 1975 to a Greek father and a Dutch mother, and first came to Australia in the 1980s. He lives in Newcastle. His critically acclaimed debut, The Last Thread, won the 2013 NSW Premier's Award for New Writing and was the regional winner (Pacific) of the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize.
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"Some nights sleep wouldn't come to her at all. A wakefulness bloomed in her, so intense it was as if something made of needles was trying to claw its way out. She'd watch the dawn spread over the street"
The Restorer is the second novel by Dutch-born Australian author, Michael Sala. When Maryanne arrives with her children at the house in East Newcastle that her estranged husband has bought, it is with hope that they can restore their relationship to its earlier, more stable state. The house is a dump, but Roy is confident he will have it fully liveable or saleable within a year.
Not everyone shares his enthusiasm for the move. Fourteen-year-old Freya is resentful of being torn away from Sydney, her friends and her nan; eight-year-old Daniel is still acting too vague and dreamy, too sheltered by Maryanne, for Roy's liking. As the months go by and Roy's behaviour regresses, Maryanne's certainty about her decision to give it another chance begins to erode.
Sala tells his story using two main narrators: Maryanne provides the perspective of a woman trying to balance a relationship with the man she loves and the imperative to protect her children from harm; Freya gives the point of view of an adolescent growing up in a family filled with hidden tensions, with a background of which she is more aware than anyone realises; next-door neighbour Richard's short but prescient narrative bookends these two.
Sala's beautiful descriptive prose effortlessly captures his setting: Newcastle locals will easily recognise their city. His mention of significant events anchors his tale firmly in the year 1989. His descriptions of weather are especially evocative.His characters are multi-faceted and realistically flawed; their dialogue is natural and their behaviour quite believable, although Maryanne gives Freya more freedom than many mothers would a fourteen-year-old. Sala touches on many topical issues, as well as some that are timeless: feelings of inadequacy, lack of trust,
`Closely observed, with the visceral force of truth, Michael Sala's heartbreaking novel captures the tender hope of love and its terrible cost.' -- Kathryn Heyman `The Restorer is a powerful, emotionally charged and thought provoking book. Yet again shining a light on a pervasive strain in Australian society, Sala effectively builds the tension based on a certain fatalistic inevitability. The storm was always coming and it was always going to break.' * PS News * `Michael Sala taps into the tension and fear of the times to help build the mood...The cracks are widening long before the earth moves in this novel of a family locked into patterns of violence.' * Australian Women's Weekly * `The Restorer is a powerful, emotionally charged and thought provoking book.' * Pile by the Bed * `His style is spare and direct, as if parading its lack of trickiness and fanfare; but underneath it swells a great, unwieldy tide of emotion.' * Overland * `Now, I'm not self-promoting here, but I will be on stage [at Sydney Writers Festival] with Newcastle writer Michael Sala. Indeed, the only person I'm promoting is Sala, as his unsettling family novel The Restorer is superb.' * Stephen Romei, Australian * `This is a sensitively rendered novel with a fine eye for emotional and physical detail. The questions it raises are as disturbing as they are compelling.' * Sydney Morning Herald * `The Restorer is a beautifully written and very powerful fiction that not only shines a light on the deep roots of domestic violence but also plays with the line of what remains in the face of such destruction. Sala's story will stay with the reader long after the book is finished.' * Compulsive Reader * `Entrancing and heartbreakingly sad.' * Who Weekly * `A slow burning work of fiction that moves with troubling intensity and sensitivity to give an insider's account of a violent marriage.' * Sydney Morning Herald * `Domestic violence is an everyday reality for tens of thousands of women in Australia. Recent horrors and public campaigns have raised awareness of this social scourge. Journalists have written extensively on the subject, yet it is novelists, as Michael Sala shows in The Restorer, that can gives us a more acute view of the emotional complexities that bind couples and keep women in threatening domestic situations.' * Australian Book Review * `Michael Sala's beautifully shaped second novel glows with all the complicated pain and joy of being human...A tremendous depth of insight and compassion on the part of the writer informs the three main characters...The reader knows pain is coming but the power and deep humanity of Sala's writing defies the instinct to look away.' * SA Weekend * `Sala's second novel is assured and polished and adds potency to the outcry against domestic violence.' * Herald Sun * `Sala's account is sophisticated and shows the immense complexity of relationships.' * Good Reading * `Unputdownable...Sala creates an atmosphere of simmering tension with an undercurrent of unpredictability that seeps into every exchange. [He] is a brilliant writer.' * Saturday Paper * `This is powerful, poetic, extraordinary fiction...Sala never falters.' * Australian * `Sala's story of mundane domestic tension explodes in ways both already anticipated and powerfully surprising. The narrative is real, compelling, sophisticated and deeply human. Having read this work, I will certainly seek out Sala's debut novel, and watch with interest for new works from this gifted creator. Strongly recommended.' * 4ZZZ * 'A gutsy, moving, beautifully wrought and utterly compelling work.' * Readings Monthly on The Last Thread * `A confronting and compelling story of a family. Sala captures perfectly the puzzled silence of the uncomprehending child in a narrative swollen with unspoken secrets.' * Debra Adelaide on The Last Thread * `Michael Sala has a rare gift: in prose that takes your breath away, he tells a story of heart-rending sorrow without a trace of sentimentality.' * Raimond Gaita on The Last Thread * `A wise and timely novel that builds and breaks like a summer storm-just as beautiful, just as brutal.' * Fiona McFarlane * `There is so much to praise about this book. Michael Sala's prose is clear and unadorned, the setting exquisitely rendered, but it is his characters-all of them flawed and complex and deeply, deeply human-who will stay with me for a very long time. I would defy anyone to read this story and remain unmoved. The Restorer is an incredibly powerful novel and, I believe, an important one.' -- Hannah Kent 'Michael Sala is a sensitive, perceptive observer of human relationships and I have long admired his work. The Restorer is a beautifully written novel about growing up, starting again-and how the riptide of personal history can pull us further and further from safety, no matter how hard we fight.' -- Charlotte Wood
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 27th February 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.5 x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.46