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Mapping Family Ties in Tracy Farr’s The Hope Fault.

Sarah Biggerstaff

Tracy Farr’s second novel, The Hope Fault, traces the intricacies of emotional interiority and personal relationships across space, time, and the permeable boundaries that define blended families.

Iris Golden’s extended family – her son, her niece, sister-in-law, her ex-husband, his new wife, and their infant child – all come together for a final weekend in the old family house to pack it up and give it a send off once it has been sold.

The book follows the emotions several of the characters experience in relation to this severance, as they each come to terms with what the house symbolises to them, and what it means for them – each at different stages in their lives – to be leaving this piece of personal heritage behind. Farr’s language is intensely visceral, evocative, and engaging, as she uses a multi-perspective device to give a glimpse into the life of a family that is anything but conventional, and brought together under peculiar circumstances.

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Whilst it is about a family as a whole, it also contains detailed portraits of its individual characters, creating stories and histories within the main narrative itself, making it a layered and well-crafted novel.

One criticism I would make of the book, and this comes down purely to personal taste, is that as the many intertwining threads of the narrative are knotted together to form the novel’s ending, the result is anything but neat or finite. For readers who prefer a sense of closure at the end of a book, this may be somewhat disappointing, as, having invested one’s time in reading this book, it is somewhat unsatisfying to be left with so many questions when there are no more pages left to read.

I can only imagine that this is a deliberate move on Farr’s part, an intentional drawing on the infiniteness of real life experiences, in which, even though our stories may cease, either with death, or the severing of a relationship, we never can really say ‘there is an end to it’, because the stories do continue, in other’s retellings, or our own recollection. This is one of the strengths of Farr’s work, that even once you have closed the book, the characters will live on with you, as you wonder what happened next, how did this affect them later on, and how much did they really know? It is both a good thing, and a bad, as your interest is well and truly piqued, but can never be fully satisfied.

The book is bittersweet, full of melancholy and hope, in equal parts. In charting the overlap between human experiences and the different generations, it highlights the inherent frailty of individuals and emphasises the importance of strong interpersonal relationships, both familial and romantic, whilst championing self-knowledge and resilience.

This book has much scope for interpretation, and will mean something different to each reader, which, again is a great strength. Though the ending is by no means definitive, it leaves the reader with a strong sense of hope, and the promise attendant on all new beginnings.

Feature image: Grant Maiden

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Sarah Biggerstaff

Sarah Biggerstaff is a literary enthusiast, from Canberra, with a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of York in the United Kingdom. She is currently in her first year of an English PhD, the focus of which is British women’s fiction from the inter-war period, with a particular interest in feminist readings of these novels. Sarah hopes to one day write books, as well as review them, and in the meantime, is happy sharing her passion for books with others. More about the Author

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