Review: Love Objects by Emily Maguire

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

People with hoarding disorder excessively accumulate items others view as superfluous. They’re unable to part with these possessions, and this stockpiling leads to clutter that detrimentally effects their lives. It’s easy to be derisive about it; caricaturize it; exaggerate the consequence rather than consider the cause, or provide a semblance of psychological insight. Most of us don’t form perpetual emotional attachments to the objects we gather during our lives. Some objects have greater meaning; others none at all. We catch and release with reckless abandon. 

But Nic, one of the three central characters in Emily Maguire’s “Love Objects,” is unable to do this. She glimpses an ethereal beauty in her vast assemblage of things; not just their aesthetic appeal. She doesn’t perceive the clutter; just objects that demand salvation, and a place inside her home.  Never mind this minefield almost leads to her death, were it not for the intervention of paramedics, led by her niece Lena, who find Nic sprawled among her vast detritus, having been trapped briefly in a kaleidoscope of memories.

With Nic laid up in hospital it falls upon Lena and her older brother Will to tidy their aunt’s home. Maguire captures each of these characters at a moment of monumental upheaval. The “cleansing” of Nic’s home is the nucleus of the novel, from which Maguire unlades the chaos of their lives: an illicit sex tape featuring Lena has been made public; a mistake Will made years earlier continues to cast a long, dark shadow as he struggles with unemployment and a breakup. They are bonded by blood and multigenerational trauma, and Maguire unspools their histories with extraordinary artistry.

Indeed, nothing about “Love Objects” feels contrived, archetypal or predestined, and it never coils towards melodrama. It’s an emotionally complex character-focused novel, weighted by issues of class and wealth, possession and intervention, and gender dynamics. Once again, Maguire proves herself unparalleled at rendering complex emotions with clarity and sympathetic intelligence. 

ISBN: 9781760878337
ISBN-10: 1760878332
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 30th March 2021
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review: An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire

Isolated Incident.jpgEmily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident is about victims. It ignores the archetypal murder mystery template and focuses on the impact of the crime rather than its investigation. It is nuanced, respectful and impactful as it shines a necessary spotlight on male violence against women.  That said, it is far more than a fictionalised dissertation on the endemic violence plaguing society; it’s a gripping, compelling narrative brimming with true-to-life characters.

When Bella Michaels is murdered in the small Australian town of Strathdee, her older sister Chris is thrust into the centre of a media storm as she struggles to cope with impossible cruelty and meaningless of the crime. Desperate for answers, for some kind of explanation, Chris’s own life comes under scrutiny by journalists desperate for fresh angles on the story – and while she’s never been ashamed by some of the choices she’s made, certain revelations are painted in a harsh light. As time goes on, the media’s reporting becomes less about determining the perpetrator and more about using Bella’s murder as a soapbox for various, until eventually, enough time passes when the public interest fades, and Chris is left to stew in her own pot of anger, grief and suspicion.

Elegantly crafted, thought-provoking and impactful, An Isolated Incident brilliantly intertwines the traditional intrigue of the whodunit with searing insight into a crime’s impact on a personal level, and a societal one. This is why we read fiction.

ISBN: 9781743538579
Format: Paperback (233mm x 154mm x mm)
Pages: 1
Imprint: Picador Australia
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publish Date: 22-Mar-2016
Country of Publication: Australia