Monday 3 October 2011

Review: I Came To Say Goodbye By Caroline Overington

When I grow up, I want to be Caroline Overington (or something very like her).

She's an Aussie journalist/author/mother who speaks with such poise and intelligence in interviews, and who uses the same poise and intelligence in her writing. In I Came To Say Goodbye, her second novel, she tells the story of Med Atley, whose wife rides the second wave of feminism right out of their small country town in the '70s, leaving him to raise three kids (including one toddler) on his own. It's the fate of the abandoned toddler, in particular, that the book deals with, revealing how mental illness and grief can tear a family apart.

The story is told primarily from Med's perspective, as he writes a letter to a judge explaining his youngest child's background, in an attempt to persuade him about a matter concerning his family (exactly what, we don't know for a long time). Initially I found this narrative style a bit contrived, doubting whether people actually write letters to judges, let alone one of this length. But that doubt was easy to push aside as I got caught up in Med's voice and Med's story. He's the kind of bloke we all know; an old-school Aussie, rough around the edges, with his beer belly and Ned Kelly beard belying the soft soul and heart of gold dwelling within. He feels very real, and I was completely swept along with all of his emotions... especially his heartbreak. I might not have much in common with an old guy like Med, but oh, how I felt for him. He always tried his best, tried oh-so-hard, and wanted nothing more than to see the kids he loved so dearly, happy. To witness his disappointment time and again was like a punch in the gut.

I completely fell in love with Med's voice, but a smaller section of the book is told from the perspective of one of Med's daughters, Kat, and it's strange that her voice is far less authentic, considering Overington herself would seem to have more in common with a 30-something professional woman than a battler like Med. The main problem for me was Kat's seeming lack of awareness of certain legal proceedings, considering that she's supposed to be a high-powered lawyer. But, like the letter format, this is only a small gripe, far outshone by the suspenseful, emotional and compelling plot, and the beautiful, simple language. Overall, I Came To Say Goodbye is a wonderful Australian story that explores important issues, and breaks your heart at the same time it reveals the strength and power of parental love.

Rating: 4/5

My "Cast"
Alf Stewart Ray Meagher as Med
Saskia Burmeister as Med's favourite child, Donna-Faye (a.k.a. Fat)
Eric Bana, circa his Chopper scumbag look, as Fat's deadshit boyfriend, Paul Haines
Cate Blanchett as Med's eldest daughter, Kat
Michael Sheen as Kat's caring British husband, David
Fine Print
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published: 2010
Publisher: Random House Australia
Get It: Booktopia

Here's an interesting video of Overington discussing some of the issues raised in the book.


  1. I've read both of Caroline Overington's book this year and absolutely loved them! I'm waiting the release of her 3rd novel now. I loved the whole Australian 'feel' of this one, particularly as I've spent time in Forster and grew up about 90 minutes away. Loved Med sooo much. I think Ray Meagher as Med in a movie would be awesome. Excellent choice, lol.

  2. This sounds so heart wrenching. Oh how many tissues? I also love your casting. Just by that, I can picture it all! Brilly!

  3. @1girl2manybooks - I read Ghost Child earlier in the year and loved it too! I'm excited to read her new book as well. She has a wonderful style and tells great stories. I haven't been to Forster but I could totally picture it from her description.

    @Melissa - Yeah I think tissues are a must, it's very sad. But brilliant. :)

  4. Wow! If I ever get a movie deal that is the cast I want!
    Thank you so much for your kind, constructive feedback.
    Warm regards,

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Caroline. I'd love to see it as a movie!

  6. It definitely sounds as a must read...great review!

  7. Thanks Shilpa! I highly recommend it :)

  8. Sounds excellent and I love how you include pictures of how you picture each character.

  9. Thanks Juju, it's a great read.

  10. The Persistence of Memory 1931: Several from the paintings such as theGreat Mens Sex ToysandAccommodations.

    Have a look at my blog post; male sex toys

  11. Simply because it' s a requirement to that will frequently change the knowledge regarding vogue, companies have on no account happened. Sex Toys CategoriesYou don't need to spike the
    football. These this Limited Riding a bicycle Jacket benefits fleshlight sleeves of which
    head out right done this inexperienced in addition to long sleeved.

    She laughed heavily and said that I took some video and photos and you can get to oral sex.
    The reason for this is that the sex toy and Fleshlight as well are still present.

  12. When you don't say what you'd like to create in your life is hers as
    you cum hard when she fucks you, clenching her didlo as you scream her name.
    Final Thoughts Like I said," I'm done, I'm done. Getting it in first time takes ages every millimetre feels like an inch, and for being a pastor is that he is one of the Fleshlights girls.

    Here is my website ... fleshlight

  13. Enjoy this friction as you move through it, and the skin tone is much nicer than the standard
    pink of regular fleshlights. While for bridegrooms, it is far
    from a typical US town.

    Visit my page ... fleshlight

  14. Now the jwellary Then she busts out a fleshlight and a wannabe rapper.
    Since homosexual acts, per se.