Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Published: 14th October 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
Genre: Adult literary/Political
I've never read any of Carey's novels, much to my shame, but the plot of Amnesia appealed to me on a number of levels, so when I saw it available on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to review it.
The plot is convoluted and the pace varies greatly, and at times it's very difficult to follow. It's often impossible to tell who is a hero and who is a villain. I did not expect there to be a love story at the centre of this book, but there it is.
Gaby Baillieux is the child of a radical socialist mother and a Labour minister father. Brought up in such a politicised household, it's little wonder that she became an activist. When a computer virus releases the doors of detention centres, allowing asylum seekers to escape, it also releases the doors of prisons throughout Australia and America, as well as the American Pine Gap facility in central Australia. The US government believes this is a deliberate act of terrorism, but Gaby's mother, actress Celine, doesn't believe her daughter is smart enough to have pulled it off. She is a scapegoat.
Knowing that such trials are largely fought in the court of public opinion, disgraced journalist Felix Moore is hired to write Gaby's biography, making clear she is an innocent party. Felix seems to have bitten off more than he can chew, however, and finishing the story might cost him his own freedom.
I suspect that those not well acquainted with Australian politics might find this a difficult read. Having grown up in a Labour household myself, I enjoyed this aspect of the novel, and the humour surrounding it. I loved the descriptions of Melbourne. I grew up in the Northern suburbs and many of the settings are familiar to me, from the imposing Pentridge Prison, to the stifled Merri Creek and the laneways of Carlton.
It is difficult to keep up with the motivations of the large cast of characters, and even at the very end you're not sure exactly where everyone stands. Some readers may find this frustrating, but it didn't bother me, the chaos was part of the book's charm.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to those with an interest in the Australian political landscape.