The deed by Susannah Begbie

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Susannah Begbie’s The deed is such fun to read. It is no surprise that the original manuscript ‘When trees fall without warning’ was winner of the 2022 Richell Prize. Now the published novel brings together laughs and ludicrous situations whilst illuminating the personal frailties of four siblings reluctantly brought together by the death of their father.

Early on we read the rather repellent details of Tom’s death as discovered by his daughter Jenny, and the old man’s bitter challenge to his alienated children with a new revised will requiring them all to work together to build a coffin within four days or forfeit any claim to his huge pastoral estate. It’s a multi-million dollar inheritance that will instead go to the only too eager lawyer who drafted the will.

Each of the four siblings, Jenny, Christine, Dave and Sophie, is a flawed character, each scarred in some way by their upbringing. They have to overcome long-term fears and resentments to actually focus on delivering the coffin on time, in spite of the obstacles the shifty lawyer is only too keen to put in their way. Along the way their misadventures will have you laughing out loud.

The chapters are short, alternating between the viewpoints of the characters, and will have you racing to read each scenario. It is a particular skill on the part of the author that while you may laugh at the situations, you also warm to the personalities and their problems. It is a not only funny but heartwarming account of a dysfunctional family that gets there in the end. Easy to recommend, the book can’t fail to be a hit.

Themes: Humour, Family dysfunction, Parenting, Sibling rivalry, Greed.

Helen Eddy

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