It is perhaps best if the background of the author, Amanda Niehaus is understood before beginning what could be considered as a dark and traumatic read with her debut novel The Breeding Season.
Billed as a ‘breathtaking debut novel’ , Niehaus takes a subject which is often considered as taboo, far too emotionally difficult to discuss, that of the death of a much-awaited child before birth, or even directly at birth, paring back the raw, brutal and often destructive emotions that are present at such a time.
Through the characters of Elise and Dan, she almost clinically explores the complexities of love and human emotion, which leaves a somewhat disturbing presence, even as the last page is read.
Their son is stillborn; the day of his funeral the day the rain comes to Brisbane, the day the world and all it contained for this couple, struggling to come to terms with the tragedy their lives have become, since the death of their much-awaited child slowly begins to dissolve.
Niehaus explores the destructive power of choice when it is taken too far, as Elise involves herself in her work, isolating herself as she returns to the fieldwork and world of science she so loves. Dan, a writer, struggling to cope not just with the death of his child but the pain of his wife, is driven to complete a work begun on his controversial artist uncle. Dan, is also facing unresolved issues from his family life, the death of his mother.
In a subtle manner the emphasis of the storyline is on the feminine aspect of the grieving, which is easily understood, but in doing so the character of Dan seems to be dulled, diminished by the immensity of Elise’s pain.
Once there was love where there now seems to be nothing but pain and the very real question many couples facing such tragedy must ask is, are they able to move beyond tragedy to rebuild on what was once love.
The Breeding Season is a complex novel partially based on Niehaus’ own life as a scientist and mother, which provides an undoubted ring of truth to the emotion and background of the story.
A work not recommended for the fait hearted, but one that if noir literature is your thing, will be one to be enjoyed.
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|