Review Blog

Sep 03 2020

Revenge, a murder in three parts by S. L. Lim

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Transit Lounge, 2020. ISBN: 9781925760583.
(Age: Adult) Recommended. The prologue to this story reveals 'the demon brother', the large bulky figure who knows how to menace with just a shift of his powerful shoulders and a sudden quiet of his voice. Little Yannie is powerless against him. His cruelty is laughed off by her parents because he is the favoured son: Shan is one they will grant every wish, every opportunity. Yannie has to give up her dreams of going to university, she is the one who has to stay and care for her parents in their dementia and last years, and she is the one turned out of their Singapore home when the son ultimately inherits everything. Her life is one of missed opportunities; her girlfriend and secret love, Shuying, chooses the security of marriage, and Jun, her long suffering admirer, will never be a satisfying intellectual companion. Almost in an aside, Yannie vows to 'kill that man' - Shan, her brother.
What follows next is a surprise. Yannie goes to Sydney to stay with her wealthy brother and his family, and forms a friendship with Evelyn, Shan's wife, and Kat, his daughter, the two women she should resent most, the women who seem to have everything, taking for granted the opportunities always denied Yannie.
This is not your usual murder story, it is intriguing in the turns it takes, the relationships are complex, and Yannie herself is a strange self-contained person for whom we can only guess at the emotions beneath the surface. Highly original, I recommend this story for readers interested in exploring modern multicultural Australian literature.
Themes: Bullying, Domestic violence, Women's role, Parental expectations.
Helen Eddy

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