Goodwood by Holly Throsby, paperback novel, 384 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.
In 1992 in a sleepy little town in NSW something very unusual happens. Young Rosie White disappears overnight, leaving her mother devastated and the townsfolk speculating. Just one week later another member of the community disappears; Bart McDonald, local butcher, upright citizen, all round good guy. He went fishing and never returned. Could their disappearances be connected, or is it merely co-incidental? And will the citizens of Goodwood ever know the truth?
In Goodwood there are a few shops, a couple of drinking establishments and just out of town, a lovely lake, perfect for fishing and boating. Seventeen year old Jean Brown introduces us to this small town, where everyone knows everyone. And where everyone’s business is kept by the whole town. Some people have learnt how to keep secrets, but eventually most secrets come to the surface. Jean lives with her mother nearby her grandparents, who have been in Goodwood forever.
A complex web of secrets and intrigues shrouds the members of Goodwood, which only start to unravel after the shocking disappearance of two very different people. Like an iceberg, much more lurks beneath the surface in Goodwood, hidden behind the public facade of each household. There is plenty of gossip, and just maybe some of it is true. Rosie works in the takeaway shop, having just left school the year before. Jean is a little bit in love with Rosie, who seems so cool and in control. In contrast, Bart is middle-aged and always has time for everyone, even the annoying old lady that visits his shop everyday mostly for a chat. They are very different people, superficially without a lot in common, just what is it that links their disappearances?
Goodwood sucked me in very early on. The plot was intricate, the characters interesting, and the pace moderate. It is a most enjoyable read about small town life and the impact that a sudden and unexpected event can illicit among the townspeople. It also has coming-of-age elements as Jean learns more about herself, her relationships and her place within the community.
I found this novel quite nostalgic, pulling me back into my childhood. Through description and characterisation, the world as it was in the early nineties came flooding back. The writing perfectly captured that time, and I was left with a feeling of familiarity and contentment. It was like having a spotlight shone upon a time that I had mostly forgotten as a young child, and that brought pleasing memories forth. This helped me feel connected to Jean, and thus connected to the story. Goodwood was a delight to read.
Goodwood is reminiscent of Peyton Place and The Dressmaker; if you liked these, try Goodwood, I’m sure you will not be disappointed! It is suitable for upper high school students and adults, particularly appealing to mystery fans and those that enjoy the complexities of small community life.
*I received this book from the publisher as an uncorrected proof through an online competition. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.