Di Morrissey, one of Australia’s favourite storytellers, is known for her fascination with different countries and their cultures, with a keen focus on their political and environmental situations and it is with this starting point that most of her novels take shape.
The Road Back is a story of family, love, loss and change. Chris Baxter, our leading man and foreign correspondent at Sydney based Trinity Press, returns home from a stint in the US to find that his life is about to change. Putting his daughters needs ahead of his own, he exchanges a Bangkok posting for a job on home turf to be able to take care of his 15-year old.
Unfortunately, the paper press has taken a hit, making Sydney-based jobs few and far between even for a journalist of Chris’s calibre. Unable to support his city lifestyle, he packs up and, with his daughter Megan in tow and dragging her feet, moves in with his mother in a small town in NSW. This is a story of three generations under one roof, each dealing with life and the curve balls it throws our way.
An added storyline, told from the perspective of Chris’ mother, Susan, of her time spent in Indonesia in the 60s, adds some flavour and plot direction to the novel. Although lacking in the cultural exploration that I had expected from Di Morrissey, I can’t help but feel that the storyline of the past is more heartfelt and exciting and should perhaps have been the one that Di Morrissey expanded on further rather than the present tense storyline which seemed to plod along at a slow pace and in a predictable manner.
Further plot twists are thrown into the story for some much needed excitement – interspersed with some rather cringe worthy dialogue – but unfortunately they all seem to resolve themselves in neat, predictable little packages, chapter by chapter. In this fashion, Morrissey sums up each character’s personal journey in one final paragraph, just as a reminder that something did in fact happen in the 430 pages that you just read.
Being unfamiliar with Di Morrissey, I was unsure what to expect from her latest novel. I couldn’t help but have the constant feeling that the story hadn’t quite kicked off due to it’s slow pace and lack of direction. That being said, The Road Back is a gentle read in Di Morrissey’s easy-going writing style and an ideal book to take on holiday to enjoy by the pool.