The Three of Us…
About the Book:
A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.
In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.
Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…
In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heartwarming depiction of love against the odds.
The Three of Us might just be one of the most surprising novels I’ve ever read. But I can’t tell you about it. Because that will ruin the surprise and this is definitely a case of the less you know the better. And I don’t mean this in the usual spoiler way. It’s just that you start out reading this novel and then very early on, you get the first surprise, and your mind builds up this picture and you begin to feel smug, because you know where this is going, except you’re wrong. And when you find out just how very wrong you are, your mind bends and flexes under the challenge this story presents, and you realise just how much you usually rely on pre-conceived notions when forming opinions. I read this novel in one sitting on a Friday night, no small feat given it’s 400 odd pages long, but it’s that good, I didn’t even consider leaving the rest until the next day.
Now, there are some things I can tell you:
1. Marriage is complex, we all know that, but maybe we don’t know as much as we think we do. Kim Lock portrays the complexities of marriage with a depth of understanding and compassion throughout The Three of Us, and she shows us, with an honesty that is humbling, just how fluid this institution can be if we open our minds and our hearts and leave our judgement on the doormat.
2. Thomas Mullet is an extraordinary man. To experience love in the way he loved Elsie would be a very special thing indeed. By no means a saint, he just got under my skin and I think he’s incredibly wonderful, so open-minded and with a heart truly made of gold. I did feel for him at times, because he had an awareness about Elsie’s love for him falling short of his own for her and yet, despite this, he still worshipped her for more than fifty years. He was also very ahead of his time in terms of domestic expectations. I loved that moment when he came to the conclusion that housework would most definitely be boring day in and day out. He understood the limitations a married woman faced, and that would have been rare in the 1960s.
3. I am continuously horrified by Australia’s history of taking babies away from their unwed mothers. This isn’t dimming with each account I read. The horror is just intensifying. The ripple effect of this is still being felt today by those affected. How many lives would have panned out differently if our welfare system had been set up with a more compassionate support base? The shame inflicted upon these women stained them and I feel so angry each time I think about it.
4. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Kim has done a wonderful job of portraying the family at the heart of this novel and the issues they faced with sensitivity and honesty. I really felt that she had a deep understanding of diversity and the realities of living within a non-standard nuclear family.
5. Love can save a person. Aida was on the edge of a precipice and love pulled her back, more than once. Again, well done to Kim for demonstrating just how much of a difference love can make.
So that’s all you’re getting. I’ve probably skated too close a few times already, so I can’t risk anymore near spills. The social history woven into this story is terrific, the small town atmosphere is authentic, and the characters are all 100% genuine. You really should read this novel, especially if you are in a bookclub. This is one read that comes guaranteed with endless pathways of discussion. It’s so good, and I’m fairly certain you won’t have read anything at all like it before.
Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of The Three of Us for review.
About the Author:
Kim Lock was born in 1981. She is the author of two previous novels Like I can Love and Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Guardian, Daily Life, and the Sydney Morning Herald online. She lives in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with her partner and their children, a dog and a couple of cats.