In a world where a right-wing US president has withdrawn America from the Middle East and the UN, and Daesh has a thoroughfare to the sea, even the most far-flung corners of the earth can’t escape global change.
When a bomb goes off in remote Tasmania and destroys part of the Bruny Bridge, UN troubleshooter Astrid Coleman returns home to help her brother prepare for the upcoming election. What she doesn’t expect is the true extent of the conspiracy theories that have engulfed her community, amidst the conflict of her brother and sister — who are on opposite sides of politics.
Only on Bruny does the world seem sane. Until Astrid discovers how far the government is willing to go.
Bruny by Heather Rose is a political thriller about family, relationships, responsibility, and order.
Set on Tasmania’s Bruny Island, the book begins after the almost-complete Bruny Bridge is blown up in the early hours of the morning. Shocked but undeterred, the Tasmanian government want that bridge to remain a top priority and are not being deterred by the terrorist act; they do all that they can to ensure the infrastructure project stays on track, and their actions could have disastrous consequences.
The premise of the novel invites intrigue, suspense and tension. Some events and conversations in Bruny reflect the current political climate in Australia, allowing readers to feel a sense of understanding and dread at what could potentially occur as we near the conclusion.
“Farris bought the property at the end of the beach a year before the bridge project was announced. He’d thought he was retiring from world to work on his next great tome on the human species. But then people began crawling over his little bit of paradise.”
Astrid Coleman is a complex protagonist — her relationship with her mother is fractured, perhaps beyond repair; her father is incredibly unwell and now only speaks in Shakespearean, and she’s still recovering from her divorce with her ex-husband, Ben. Reflections on the past highlight the deprecating treatment she received from him — it had a damaging impact on her self-esteem and her self-worth but she’s now doing much better.
Additionally, her relationship with her siblings is at times fraught because they’re on opposite political sides and Astrid often feels she’s caught in the middle. The book features a touch of romance, enough for it to blend well with the rest of the book, but not too much where you feel it detracts from the overarching plot and themes in the book.
“I knew Mick Feltham had been offered a huge bonus for meeting the bridge deadline by JC, following that meeting with Aid-n-Abet. There were also penalties for any day it went over.”
Heather’s strengths lie in her vocabulary choice, her sentence structure, her ability to put together magnificent prose and relatable, believable and entertaining dialogue. The imagery and descriptive language is evocative, drawing the reader in and keeping them engaged throughout.
“Tasmanians are island people, Bruny Islanders even more so. It’s a very different identity to that of someone from American Midwest, the mountains of Europe, the veldts of Africa. There is always the awareness that we are somehow water-bound and water-dependent. The water is friend and foe.”
Here’s something you don’t really grasp from the blurb — the book is incredibly political. For some readers, it may be too political and this may affect their ability to finish the book. Personally, a lot of the political discussions went way over my ahead and I found it quite disorientating. I went along for the ride, but I didn’t really understand what was going on — I didn’t really understand the stakes that were at play.
The majority of the book is incredibly slow-paced, and there are some chapters where nothing really happens in the present and it’s all a reflection on past events. The climax of the book, though, is fast-paced, heated, incredible and interesting. But by then it feels a little late — it seems like a jolt because the pacing changes so quickly and you’re not quite ready for it. I just don’t know that all readers will stick around long enough to get to the climax.
Bruny is for seasoned readers who are aware they’re headed into a political thriller novel. People who don’t read very often? This isn’t for them. People who read a lot of literary fiction or political thrillers? They’ll love this.
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Allen & Unwin Publishers