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The front cover of Bluebird does more than explain the setting. It shows a dated but idyllic scene of an almost deserted beach, with a bronzed surfer and his board, overlooking the bay. The seagull above his head represents the voice of his step- mother in law. Indeed, she begins the book and each part of it with a soliloquy and gives her point of view. She has tried manipulating the characters but, in the end, she admits defeat.

Gordon Grimes is devoted to his family, their run-down beach house, and all who wander in there; some to have a coffee, some to swap a book, some just to rest. His son is wonderfully portrayed. Being autistic he has certain habits of speech which are authentic.  “Wait, What?” is his common reply when asked a question. Gordon and his cohorts are middle aged surfers, who have clung to the old ways and life has moved on while they are still.

As the house is one of the last of its kind it is slowly falling apart. Although the family and friends were in fine professions, (law and journalism) there is no work to be had and their savings are dwindling. Gordon’s wife has abandoned the house and him, as the pressure mounts to replace their sanctuary with a new gleaming dwelling. The characters are all resistant in one way or another.

Malcolm Knox has drawn a skillful picture of a small society of surfers, within a larger modern society and its needs. It seems that few of the characters have a clear direction, and this is certainly true of Gordon. He is a “decent man”, who considers all the family members and their needs, while trying desperately to sort out his own. It is a very Australian and familiar read.

Author Malcolm Knox
Publisher Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760877422
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released September 2020