- Author: Erina Reddan
Book online «The Serpent's Skin Erina Reddan (affordable ebook reader .TXT) 📖». Author Erina Reddan
An extraordinary novel about overcoming male power, the strength of sibling bonds and the secrets that can haunt a family. Most of all, The Serpent’s Skin is about the many ways we prove our love.
It’s a cold and wintery night in 1968 and ten-year-old JJ’s mother isn’t home. The cows are milked, the pigs fed, and her dad won’t answer any questions.
Sarah is the lifeblood of their family, and her absence throws everyone off course: Tessa takes charge, Tim makes mistakes, Philly retreats, and JJ blames herself. Their father works hard to keep up appearances, but something’s not right. It’s always been JJ’s job to cause trouble, and when she can’t leave the clues alone, her sleuthing wreaks havoc in their tight-knit community, and she swears off troublemaking for good.
Fourteen years on, JJ has a new life, a loving partner and a good job. But she puts it all in jeopardy when she stumbles across a chance to solve the dark mystery of her childhood. While pretending to have made peace with it, she organises a final farewell for her mother so they can all put the past behind them. Will the explosive truth finally set them free?
Compulsive, gripping and full of heart, The Serpent’s Skin ushers in Erina Reddan as a brilliant new voice in Australian fiction.
Praise for The Serpent’s Skin
‘The Serpent’s Skin is a deeply satisfying book of quiet power and dignity. I loved the sparse poetry of the writing, and the punchiness and strength of this novel’s voice.’
Christos Tsiolkas, Damascus
‘The Serpent’s Skin is a powerful, gripping read, with a cast of complex, satisfyingly original characters. Erina Reddan has written a rich, memorable Australian novel.’
Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project
‘With The Serpent’s Skin, Erina Reddan has lovingly crafted a fast-paced and timely novel tracing the consequences of a family suffocated by mystery, unquestioned power and grief. Erina pays tribute to women who refuse to bow to the secrets of the past by gifting us JJ, a tenacious spirit who not only seeks the truth no matter the cost, but uncompromisingly searches for the depth and bravery of her mother’s love, of women and their truth, over any ties to patriarchal expectation. This is powerful storytelling.’
Sarah Schmidt, See What I Have Done
‘Wonderful. Achingly poignant and real, with a page-turning story and characters to break your heart.’
Toni Jordan, Fragments
‘A powerful and insightful novel that illuminates how secrets stay buried within families, and the bombs, sheer strength and bravery required to stand up to male power.’
Sarah Macdonald, Holy Cow
‘A perfect jewel of a book, captivating, rare and precious. The dark beauty of The Serpent’s Skin twists its way into your heart, refusing to let go until its devastating but triumphant conclusion.’
Elise McCredie, Nowhere Boys
THE THING SHE LEFT BEHIND
THE STORY JACK TELLS
WHAT MRS NOLAN KNOWS
THE THING THAT SHOULDN’T BE THERE
THE WORLD WITHOUT HER
A DEFINITE LIE
WHAT JJ OWES JACK
A CLUE AT LAST
THE MORE THAT DOESN’T ADD UP
MRS TYLER’S SUSPICION
IT’S GOT TO END
JACK SKIDS AWAY
WHAT TESSA KNOWS
WHAT’S JACK SCARED OF?
THAT MISSING THING
ORDER INTO CHAOS
THE MISSING PAGES
WHAT NANCY REALLY KNEW
PHILLY’S PUZZLE PIECE
WHAT JACK ADMITS
THE SIZE OF TRUTH
THE MOP UP
AN UNEXPECTED CLUE
SETTING THE TRAP
BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
TORCHED SAMPLE CHAPTER
‘… the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.’
To my daughters Maya Verena and Alena Bella, for their courage, their fire, their joy.
To all of us who fight with whatever we have to bring down the master’s house.
The world is a strange, wild and complex place, and 2020 took first prize in all those categories. I’m guessing that if you are holding this book, it’s because you know the power of a book to get you through the hard times.
Books take us deep into the richness of life and we need that. Books take us away from what pulls us into the dark and we need that. Books give us hope and we need that. I wrote The Serpent’s Skin out of just this kind of need.
My life is so rich and full of beauty and fun and adventure and I’m bloody lucky. But lurking below the surface, like a serpent, is the challenge of the dark I grew up in. The darkness of excruciating poverty. Of the fear and the bitterness it engenders. Of the utter loneliness, the deep isolation.
We grew up on a dirt patch of a farm that we kids loved. The house had been built by my grandfather back at the turn of the last century and it was weathered and worn and the wind whistled through the cracks in the boards in winter and the sun burnt through the tin roof in the heat of the summer. In fact, the Victorian health board made the long trek out from the city just to let us know that our house was UNFIT FOR HUMAN HABITATION. But inhabit it we did—all eight of us.
We grew up and grew away and my father sold that farm, and the house was promptly demolished to make way for a modern, no-cracks one.
None of us blinked. It was what had to happen. But twenty years on, my brother, a livestock auctioneer, noticed that somebody was waiting for him the whole morning. When he finished, the old guy stepped forward. He’d been to our place back in the day, and at the time he’d had a new Brownie box camera. He’d recently discovered a photo of our house, and had tracked Pat down to offer him the single slide in its plastic sleeve. There were no photos of our place, so Pat developed the slide, blew it up, framed it, put it on his wall and invited the rest of us around.
We gathered in great excitement. But the chattering and banter slid into silence. It was my brother who finally said it: ‘How could the old man