01 July 2019

Review: The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins

The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins book cover
We join Radford in England in 1962 when he is sent to Goodwin Manor, a home for troubled boys. The boys aren't required to disclose the events leading up to their arrival at Goodwin Manor, but I hoped their backstories would be slowly revealed throughout the novel. Alas, this isn't the case. In fact, we don't even get the backstory of the main character, Radford.

I was ready for a bootcamp style campus novel for delinquents and troublemakers, but Goodwin Manor is not a structured boarding school environment with a schedule designed to turn bad boys good again. Instead it offers the boys an opportunity to work through their issues via the process of friendship.

I adjusted my expectations and began to hope for an inspiring novel about wayward boys desperate for learning and mentorship reminiscent of Dead Poet’s Society, however didn't find that either.

As we observe the boys interacting with eachother and Radford becoming friends with West, I desperately wanted to give the school some structure. Teddy's oversight felt painfully inadequate and I wanted to crack out a timetable of lessons and chores for the boys. The seemingly complete lack of any regime irked me, but was that the point?

I wished there had been more inspiring adult figures in the lives of the boys at Goodwin Manor and I also wanted to see what happened when one of the boys returned home. Furthermore, I desired evidence of an improvement in the behaviour and wellbeing of the boys who'd spent the most time at Goodwin Manor.

Unfortunately, the reader is deprived of character backstories and thereby any evidence of individual growth, development or recovery. There was also much that was never explained. How did the boys get the money for cigarettes and booze and what was with the chicken coop?

The Everlasting Sunday is a literary novel by an Australian author that has won a swag of awards (see below). It's a coming-of-age novel about friendship, self, rejection, love, grief and hope but ultimately I found it too wanting for my tastes.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

P.S. Thanks to Theresa Smith for the copy generously given in a giveaway.

Awards include:

  • SHORTLISTED: Christina Stead Prize for Fiction
  • SHORTLISTED: UTS Glenda Adams New Writing Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2019
  • LONGLISTED: The ALS Gold Medal for Literature
  • The Australian's 'Top 10 Australian Books of 2018'
  • Australian Book Review's '2018 Books of the Year'
  • The Age / Sydney Morning Herald's 'Books of the Year 2018'
  • Good Reading Magazine's 'Top 10 fiction titles of 2018'
  • Au Review's 'Best 16 Books of 2018'

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