Book Review: Springtime – A Ghost Story by Michelle de Kretser


About the Book:

‘Picking up her pace, Frances saw a woman in the shadowy depths of the garden. She wore a wide hat and a trailing pink dress; a white hand emerged from her sleeve. There came upon Frances a sensation that sometimes overtook her when she was looking at a painting: space was foreshortened, time stilled.’

When Frances met Charlie at a party in Melbourne he was married with a young son.

Now Charlie and Frances live in Sydney with her dog, Rod, and an unshakeable sense that they have tipped the world on its axis. Everything is alien, unfamiliar, exotic: haunting, even.

A rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story by Miles Franklin Literary Award-winner Michelle de Kretser.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoy Michelle de Kretser’s writing. Just take this passage as a case in point:

‘One of the things that had been said in Melbourne when she announced that she was moving to Sydney was, You’ll miss the parks. Other things included: There are no good bookshops there. And, What will you do for food?’

Classic! She does this so well, in so many different ways, and manages to convey so much about Australian society through this sharply delivered, witty, and observational tone.

‘Frances had reminded Joseph that she didn’t eat meat. Joseph texted back: No problem. He served a platter of oysters and announced marinated duck breasts to follow. Rising to fire the barbeque, he told Frances, ‘Don’t worry, there is plenty of extra salad for you.’ Joseph believed that if you didn’t eat meat you weren’t hungry.
The duck breasts arrived, and a plate of coloured leaves for Frances. “I used to be fussy about food,” remarked Vanessa. She had that penetrating, well-bred voice which, no matter what it says, enters the Australian ear like glass. “But I was in Sri Lanka two Christmases ago. The tsunami? When I saw what people went through, I made up my mind to always eat whatever was on my plate.”’

Springtime is a short little book, a novella by my definition, although it is only about 80 pages. It’s sub-titled as a ghost story. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by what I got. This is a new edition, the story was first published in 2014. If you’re looking for an amusing and thought provoking little nibble of a read, then this is the ideal book for you. If you’ve never read Michelle de Kretser and have wondered if her books would be your cup of tea, this is a good way to sample her talent. Highly recommended.


Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of Springtime for review.

About the Author:

Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14. Educated in Melbourne and Paris, Michelle has worked as a university tutor, an editor and a book reviewer. She is the author of The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case, which won the Commonwealth Prize (SE Asia and Pacific region) and the UK Encore Prize, and The Lost Dog, which was widely praised by writers such as AS Byatt, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd and won a swag of awards, including: the 2008 NSW Premier’s Book of the Year Award and the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and the 2008 ALS Gold Medal. The Lost Dog was also shortlisted for the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, the Western Australian Premier’s Australia-Asia Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Asia-Pacific Region) and Orange Prize’s Shadow Youth Panel. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her fourth novel, Questions of Travel, received 14 honours, including winning the 2013 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Her latest novel, The Life to Come, is the winner of the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award and 2019 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize.

Springtime – A Ghost Story
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released 7th January 2020 (New Edition)
First Published 2014

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Springtime – A Ghost Story by Michelle de Kretser

    • That was so funny. It pops up again later in reference to the toilet being off the hall near the kitchen and that’s deemed to be the sort of unhygenic thing that Sydney-siders don’t care about. 😂 It would never happen in Melbourne!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Speculative Fiction Roundup – January 2020 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s