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Dispatch: 23 January 2017
Teetotaller's Wake/Van Langenberg/Paper/0957873581/S047-C1
"No rueful irony and postmodern games for Carolyn van Langenberg. She embraces and describes the world with full-on passion, sensuousness, a deep sense of history and place, and a delicious sly humour.
"With this novel, The Teetotaller's Wake, van Langenberg leaves Penang, the setting for Fish Lips, her first novel in the trilogy about the Hindmarsh clan, for the lush north coast of New South Wales. The Hindmarsh matriarch has died, and Fiona, one of the 'clever' Hindmarsh girls, returns to the farm of her childhood for her funeral and is soon awash in copious amounts of tea, intrusive relatives, and disturbing memories.
"Through Fiona, van Langenberg excavates with sympathetic accuracy the midden of complicated reactions that members of the rural diaspora can experience on returning home. As one of those members, I was completely engaged by van Langenberg's candid depiction of the vanity and embarrassment of those who leave and the incomprehension toward them of those who stay, all wrapped in an awkward bundle of family love and loathing." - Kate Jennings.