Powerful and Breathtaking: Read Our Review of The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland

Powerful and Breathtaking: Read Our Review of The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland

Sylvie is a lover of words and a collector of stories, only she has lost her own. She has no words for that night at the lighthouse when their lives changed forever. What happened to cleave her apart from her best friend and soulmate, Kase?

Sylvie yearns to rekindle their deep connection, so when Kase invites her to the wild Tasmanian coast, to celebrate her fortieth birthday, she accepts – despite the ghosts she must face.

As Sylvie struggles to find her feet among old friends, she bonds with local taxi boat driver Holden. But he is hiding from the world, too.

Through an inscription in an old copy of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Sylvie and Kase discover their mothers have a history, hidden from their daughters. As they unpick what took place before they were born, they’re forced to face the rift in their own friendship, and the question of whether it’s ever okay to keep a secret to protect the person you love.

Vanessa McCausland first captivated readers in 2019 with her stunning debut novel The Lost Summers of Driftwood. Next came The Valley of Lost Stories, which was voted onto our 2021 Top 100 list. Now she returns with The Beautiful Words, an enthralling new novel about betrayal and forgiveness, the stories we tell, and the healing power of words.

The novel is split into dual timelines, following best friends Sylvie and Kase in 1996 as they attend a drunken party at Palm Beach where things go terribly wrong; Sylvie and Kase twenty-three years later when they are reunited for Kase’s birthday, and their mothers’ Fran and Eve in the 1960s. McCausland seamlessly links all these threads together to create a vivid portrait of two generations of female friendship, one that celebrates the love, joy, pain and complexities shared in the bonds between women. While female friendship sits at the heart of this story, McCausland sensitively weaves in other important themes, too, including trauma, grief and toxic masculinity.

Like her previous works, setting plays an important part in this story. The rugged yet breathtaking Bruny Island is brought to life here through vibrant detail and evocative prose. The protagonist Sylvie is just as isolated as the island itself, having cut herself off from others long ago. Sylvie makes for an extremely compelling and likeable protagonist, one who still carries the scars of past hurts, even if, sadly, she struggles to remember the full extent of what she’s suffered.

Rich with atmosphere and written in haunting, melodic prose, The Beautiful Words is a powerful and timely work of fiction that celebrates the importance of female friendship and women’s voices. Ultimately, though, it is a tale of healing, and a love letter to words and the power of storytelling.

Buy a copy of The Beautiful Words here.

Reviews

An Utterly Exquisite Read: Try a Sample Chapter of The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland

Review | Extract

3 December 2021

An Utterly Exquisite Read: Try a Sample Chapter of The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland

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        Publisher details

        The Beautiful Words
        Author
        Vanessa McCausland
        Publisher
        HarperCollins
        Genre
        Fiction
        Released
        01 December, 2021
        ISBN
        9781460759585

        Synopsis

        Two best friends, one summer night, and twenty years of silence ... what happened at the lighthouse?

        The stunning, haunting new novel from the author of The Lost Summers of Driftwood.

        Sylvie is a lover of words and a collector of stories, only she has lost her own. She has no words for that night at the lighthouse when their lives changed forever. What happened to cleave her apart from her best friend and soulmate, Kase?

        Sylvie yearns to rekindle their deep connection, so when Kase invites her to the wild Tasmanian coast to celebrate her 40th birthday, she accepts - despite the ghosts she must face.

        As Sylvie struggles to find her feet among old friends, she bonds with local taxi boat driver Holden. But he is hiding from the world, too.

        Through an inscription in an old book, Sylvie and Kase discover their mothers have a history, hidden from their daughters. As they unpick what took place before they were born, they're forced to face the rift in their own friendship, and the question of whether it's ever okay to keep a secret to protect the person you love.

        Vanessa McCausland's enthralling new novel is about betrayal and forgiveness, the stories we tell, and the healing power of words.

        Vanessa McCausland
        About the author

        Vanessa McCausland

        Vanessa McCausland studied English and Australian literature at The University of Sydney. She has worked as a journalist for 17 years including as a news and medical reporter for The Daily Telegraph and entertainment reporter for mX Newspaper. Her work has appeared in news.com.au, mamamia, body+soul, whimn.com.au and she's currently a weekend editor at kidspot.com.au. Vanessa has previously published a novel with Penguin Random House. She lives on Sydney's northern beaches with her husband and daughter.

        Books by Vanessa McCausland

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