Tuesday 31 January 2012

Review: The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

This book was painful. Like, I-feel-like-my-heart-is-bleeding kinda painful. A good kinda painful, then. Naturally. 

The Pipers Son is the sequel/companion to Melina Marchettas Saving Francesca, and it picks up the characters lives five years down the track. This time, Tom Mackee is our main character, along with his aunt Georgie, as the book alternates between their viewpoints via third person narration. They, along with the rest of their family and friends, are trying to recover from some devastating losses in the past (both recent and distant). 

With protagonists that are 22 and 42, The Pipers Son feels a bit more grown up than Saving Francesca and Looking for Alibrandi, and the third person narrative also sets it apart. The writing is even more beautiful, if thats at all possible. I liked being able to get into more than one characters head, as well as seeing them from the outside. It gave the story a much wider scope than it perhaps would have had otherwise.

Now, I thought Saving Francesca was sad, but I have to say, its got nothing on The Pipers Son. Tom and Georgie are both so lost in their grief and its such an emotional ride, made all the more potent by the extremely realistic characters, conversations, emotions and actions. As with Marchettas other books that Ive read, I found myself nodding along to a characters inner monologue more than once. I really felt their pain. And it was tough.

Thankfully, there are plenty of light moments to balance out the sadness. As Tom slowly reconnects with the old gang from St Sebastians, the friendly teasing comes back into play and you cant help but smile. The interactions between the Mackee family are also tinged with humour, and theres a lot of joy mixed in with their hurt. The best moments, though, come from Tara (who is in Timor) and Toms email exchanges. Though they're half a world apart (literally and emotionally), their spark is still there, waiting to be set alight. I just love all of these characters; theyre strong, unique, and well fleshed-out. I feel like I know them well if only I had friends like these in real life!

Rating: 4/5

Spoilery Talking Points
  • I was sad at the lack of Jimmy in this book. He was one of my favourite characters in Saving Francesca. I need to know that he's OK.
  • On the other hand, the suggestion that Frankie's parents are doing great is heartening. 
  • I also kinda missed Siobhan! She seemed to be doing well though. I was kinda glad they were all still friends. Well, except for the whole Tom kerfuffle - but he made good in the end.
  • On an entirely superficial note, I really want to know what Will's tatt looks like.

Eye Candy
The same as Saving Francesca, plus...

Benedict Samuel as Tom

Claudia Karvan as Georgie

Emily Browning as Tara

Guy Pearce as Sam
Fine Print
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Published: March 2010, Viking
Get It: Fishpond


  1. I adore this review, Belle! This book destroyed me, in the best way.
    Isn't it stunning?
    I love your casting. I don't know who I picture as Tom (well, other than, you know, MY SOUL MATE) but Mr Samuel will do nicely ;)

    Now read Jellicoe/Finnikin/Froi, go go go!

    1. Aw thanks Jo! I know exactly what you mean - I felt drained, but in a good way. It is stunning. Love Tom! Glad you approve or Benedict :D
      Is Jellicoe as emotional? I don't know if I can bear that at the moment! ;)

    2. I'd probably say I was more emotionally drained by TPS than Jellicoe, but it's still extremely intense. MM has the ability of completely tearing up my soul with her characters, I get so invested.

      Maybe fit in a few fluffy books before you read JR ha ;)

    3. I might have to do that, thanks Jo! :)

  2. I saw this book all over peoples 2011 round ups and have been curious about it ever since!!

    1. It's a great read! I highly recommend Saving Francesca first, if you haven't already - this book can stand alone, but I think you'd enjoy it more knowing the background of the characters and their relationships.

  3. Will's tat is a Hawk! hehehe for a while I thought it might have been a sea turtle or a lobster. I'm so silly. Like Will would get a tat of a lobster. LOL

    I missed Jimmy in this book too, I think everyone did. I'm so worried about him.

    1. It is?! Well that is kinda cool. All I could think of was a penguin, which didn't seem to be the kind of thing Tom would be impressed by!

    2. Yay. I guess people kept asking her. LOL

      For fun facts are on her 10 August 2011 entry:
      As part of my one day break from writing I thought I'd make a list of 15 things a reader may not have known about my novels (and stuff that I've almost forgotten).

      1.Will’s tattoo in The Piper’s Son is a hawk inspired by the feature film Lady Hawke (hawks and wolves mate for life according to Rutger Hauer)


    3. OMG the fact that it was inspired by Ladyhawke is even more amazing. I think I have to kind of like Will now.

  4. I think I would need to read Saving Francesca again before this one. It does sound great

    Thanks for sharing your review for the AWW challenge

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

    1. Yes, it's not necessary but I think it definitely enhances your enjoyment of TPS.

  5. Confession: I've never read anything by Melina Marchetta (gasp!)

    After reading your review, however, I'm convinced I should pick up one of her books for the Australian Women Writers challenge. Should I start with Looking for Alibrandi?

    1. You definitely should! Well I'm a bit biased about Alibrandi because it was one of my favourite books in high school (and still is), but I know a lot of people prefer her later work. If you were only going to read one, I'd say maybe try On the Jellicoe Road (haven't read it yet myself - just about to - but SO many people say it's the best). But if you're planning on reading more of her work, Alibrandi is probably a good place to start! The movie is also great.

  6. Great review, Belle! I absolutely loved The Piper's Son ;)

  7. Great review Belle - sounds intense. I haven't read a Marchetta novel since reading Alibrandi in my teens, a long time ago now.