The Good Parents – Joan London

The Good Parents

My book club chose to read this book because of the this review – it was very glowing.

The general consensus at book club was that it was a good choice; one person loved it and no one hated it – unlike a few of our other choices.

Here’s a description …

Eighteen-year-old Maya de Jong has moved from Warton, country WA, to Melbourne, in the hope of finding work and getting away from the stifling environment of a small town. She’s never really suited Warton, and though she loves her parents and her younger brother, Magnus, the town holds no future for her. Through a family contact in Melbourne she lands a job working at Global Imports, a small operation owned by the enigmatic fifty-year-old Maynard Flynn, whose wife Dory is dying of cancer. Maynard is entranced by the impressionable Maya and the two begin an affair. Business is not booming and after the death of his wife Maynard is convinced by a shady business acquaintance to move interstate to start up another line of business. Maynard persuades Maya to go with him, to drop everything and leave immediately. She agrees, and they go despite the fact that Maya’s parents are on their way to Melbourne to stay with her for a couple of weeks. Jacob and Toni, Maya’s parents, turn up at her share house and are told by Maya’s housemate Cecile that Maya has disappeared and she doesn’t know where she is. And so begins a search, both physical and emotional, that spans the couple’s past and present. For Jacob and Toni, their whole identity has been about being good parents, or being good enough parents. With the disappearance of their daughter, everything they have stood for, believed about themselves over the years is called into question and will affect not only their notion of who they are, but their relationship with each other.

 Ms London writes beautiful prose her description of the toilets in Maya’s office building is fabulous. This novel was written from many different points of view, which I liked, but then I always like first person narratives. I think she writes well about adolescent angst – particularly teenage boys and her descriptions of ordinary events are full of detail and very convincing.

I enjoyed reading about Perth and Warton – it’s always nice to read a story set in your own town. I thought the accidental meeting at the MCG at the end was a bit too neat (I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the story). However, one of my friends did comment that things like that happen all the time. About two thirds of the way through the book I was ready for it to end, but overall my impression is positive and I shall try to read her other works.

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