Julia Leigh is the author of two internationally acclaimed and widely translated novels, The Hunter (1999) and Disquiet (2008). Her film Sleeping Beauty was nominated for the Palme D'Or at the Festival de Cannes 2011. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
Leigh follows her internationally acclaimed The Hunter with a haunting family drama tightly packed into a tense novella. Olivia, referred to primarily (and somewhat affectedly) as "the woman," has fled her abusive husband with her two sharp-tongued young children. She seeks refuge at her mother's chateau in France, which she left on bad terms to get married 12 years earlier. Soon after Olivia's unexpected arrival, her brother shows up with his wife, Sophie, and the body of their stillborn child. Although the plot feels a bit slight, there is great emotional weight and disturbing imagery, as Sophie wanders aimlessly, still wearing her hospital ID bracelet and carrying her lifeless daughter in her arms as if the baby were a doll. The chateau is an ideal gothic setting for the morbid events that occur over the course of several days; indeed, there is only one scene that takes place off the chateau's grounds, infusing the novel with an unsettling atmosphere of claustrophobia. Death and impending death reign, but Leigh also paints a subtle portrait of a broken family trying to piece itself back together. (Dec.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.