A compelling tale of the slow disintegration of a relationship and the unravelling of a man.
Tom and Clara are two struggling academics in their mid-thirties, who decide to take their first holiday in ten years. On the flight over to Indonesia, Tom experiences a debilitating panic attack, something he hasn’t had in a long time, which he keeps hidden from Clara. At the resort, they meet Madeleine, a charismatic French woman, her Australian partner, Jeremy, and five-year-old son, Ollie, and the two couples strike up an easy friendship. The holiday starts to look up, even to Tom, who is struggling to get out of his own head. But when Clara and Madeleine become trapped in the maze-like grounds of the hotel during ‘the fogging’ – a routine spraying of pesticide – the dynamics suddenly shift between Tom and Clara, and the atmosphere of the holiday darkens.
Told with equal parts compassion and irony, and brimming with observations that charm, illuminate, and devastate, The Fogging dives deep into what it means to be strong when your foundation is built on sand.
Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:
It’s about a lovely couple who go on a holiday. Haven’t been on a holiday in a while. I would recommend this book to family and friends. Very interesting. Couldn’t put it down. A lot of people all around the world probably miss travelling, going to different countries, trying new things. – Suzanna, NSW, 5 Stars
The Fogging is a skilfully written story about Tom and Clara, both academics are taking a well-earned holiday. Tom, unbeknown to Clara, suffers with anxiety, a subsequent panic attack in flight impacts on their relationship for the holiday. We learn to appreciate the lengths that people will go to seemingly fit in and appear just like everyone else. When Tom and Clara travel together on holiday all senses are heightened and the reader can feel what Tom is experiencing. The details and observations made along the way are meticulous and had me feeling quite concerned for Tom’s wellbeing. The relationship between Tom and Clara is in the throes of disintegrating, befriending another holidaying family brings the potential for distraction and fun. The reaction of Clara to the fogging is a scary turning point, which seems to heighten the gulf between Clara and Tom. Horton has given me insight into anxiety and raised my awareness and sense of compassion for those who suffer in silence. The Fogging is a thought-provoking and beguiling tale. – Margaret, NSW, 5 Stars
The Fogging by Luke Horton is a tale of the mental disintegration of a man. Tom and Clara, two academics in their thirties take their first holiday in ten years, to Bali. Tom suffers from long term anxiety and has a panic attack during the flight but manages to keep it secret from Clara. At the resort, Clara meets Madeleine, a French woman and her partner, Jeremy, and their five-year-old son Ollie. The fogging refers to thick, cloudy gas used by the Bali resort to reduce the insect population. After the confusion caused by the fumigation, the relationship between Tom and Clara is never quite the same. The novel is told entirely from Tom’s point of view so the character of Clara is never fully explored. As the story progresses the relationship between Tom and Clara slowly erodes. This book looks at the fragility of the masculine psyche, a deteriorating relationship under the stress of mental illness, human relationships and isolation. This book is a worthwhile if unsettling read from a debut author. – Chris, WA, 4 Stars
Almost from the very first page, I found myself relating immensely to Tom, the protagonist and one of main characters. It was an emotional read for me, and I found myself comparing the characters to people in my own world, which made for a deep, personal connection to the story and made the characters step off the page, and come alive, so to speak. The story was easy to follow and the creative descriptions of where they were made me feel like I was there too, experiencing the same things. Having a small amount of main characters was something I enjoyed about the book, it gave focus where it was needed, though I do feel we as the readers could have known more details about the context behind situations, but I think that’s part of the intrigue also. I enjoyed The Fogging immensely, and once I started reading, found it very hard to put down. Thank you. – Sarah, TAS, 4 Stars
Found this an interesting book to read, Tom and Clara are the main characters on a holiday for the first time in years. In Bali the relationship starts to unravel, Tom is quite an anxious person and his mental state appears to worsen throughout the book, as I said an interesting book. – Deborah, NSW, 4 Stars
The Fogging is a well-written, compulsive read, which immediately drew me into the lives of its characters, particularly the protagonist, Tom, who struggles to overcome, or at least mask, his long-standing, debilitating anxiety sufficiently, to enable him to engage with others. There is a sense of impending doom throughout the story, largely the result of Tom’s view of himself and his expectation that things are not going to go the way he would like them too. Tom’s partner, Clara, is an equally complex personality, with issues of her own. Their long and fraught relationship forms the main theme running through the book, but there is some welcome, light relief when they manage to converge emotionally and navigate their way through some more pleasant experiences during their long-awaited holiday in Bali. However, the ‘fogging’, a customary spraying of insecticide in their hotel, seems to be a watershed moment in their relationship. Thanks to the author, publisher and Better Reading for the ARC. – Charlene, WA, 4 Stars
I found this book compulsively readable. Short, but managing to convey a lot in the sparing use of dialogue. It took me a couple of chapters to settle into the writing style, but as I got to understand Tom more, it made more sense and helped in my interpretation of his character. I am the reader who looks for the good, the redeemable, the hero in my MC’s. I will silently encourage them through their struggles and rejoice when things go well. Even when Tom revealed his apathetic character, I was still holding out for him. I wanted to be surprised and endeared by him. We would struggle to get along, me and Tom, if we knew each other. I felt for him, and although I can’t relate to his anxiety, it was convincingly presented by Horton through the slow release of details and recollection of seemingly minor incidents in Tom’s life that build the picture of who he is and why. Tom lets life happen to him, whether that be personally or professionally or romantically, and is not the person to chase after what he wants. And that is partly what has led him to this point. Despite all of that or maybe because of it, I couldn’t put this down and read it in an evening. I was so intrigued and while you can feel the intensity building, I couldn’t pick where it was heading next. It was quietly exciting even when the characters were frustrating. I finished the book thinking “why don’t they just TALK to each other?” – Britt, VIC, 4 Stars
If you’ve wondered what it’s like to inhabit the mind of a middle-class man largely dissatisfied with his decisions and the life he’s found himself with, then this book’s for you. Initially hesitant, as I progressed through The Fogging I found myself increasingly absorbed in Tom’s life and mind. Tom’s floater, someone who ends up in situations not necessarily by force of choice or will, but because he hasn’t the energy or drive to explore different paths. His partner Clara shares the same motivation – or lack thereof. Tom, Clara (and the reader) feel that the couple are on a holiday in Bali where the eponymous fogging occurs is because the trip happened ‘to’ them, not because of them. Even their friendship with Madeline and Jeremy appears to be initiated and maintained by the other couple. Although it was difficult to warm to Tom, I found myself drawn into his life. Particularly the stories about his childhood and family illustrated why, perhaps, he ends up the person he is. Not an easy read, at times an uncomfortable one, but ultimately I’m glad I took the time to explore and understand what it is like to walk in Tom’s shoes. – Kate, VIC, 4 Stars
Tom and Clara are on their first overseas holiday in 10 years to Bali, to try and salvage a relationship that is falling apart at the seams. Tom is a failing academic who is struggling with anxiety, yet isn’t willing to actually make the changes to help him overcome his crippling anxiety. I found this book hard to get into at first as I found the lack of quotation marks distracting, however, once I got used to the style of writing I enjoyed the book immensely. Luke Horton kept us wondering what was going to happen next the entire time, a very intriguing read. Thank you Scribe Publications and Better Reading for the opportunity to read and review this book. – Megan, SA, 4 Stars
This book skilfully explores the impact mental health has on a relationship when past hurts and worries about the future prevent a couple from enjoying the present. A clinical, yet tender, depiction of the cruel and consuming manacles of anxiety. – Kirralee, SA, 4 Stars