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The Precipice

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  74 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
A psychological literary thriller from the author of The Biographer, where one woman's suspicions threaten to tear a family apart

Thea Farmer, 77, a reclusive and difficult retired school principal, lives in isolation with her dog in the Blue Mountains. Her distinguished career ended under a cloud over a decade earlier, following an unspecified scandal involving a much youn
Paperback, 292 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Random House Australia (first published May 7th 2011)
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The Street Sweeper by Elliot PerlmanBlood by Tony BirchSpirit of Progress by Steven CarrollAll That I Am by Anna FunderSarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville
Miles Franklin Longlist 2012
8th out of 13 books — 7 voters
In and Out of Step by Christine M. KnightLife Song by Christine M. KnightSong Bird by Christine M. KnightThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakJasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Great Australian novels
81st out of 174 books — 80 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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☼♄Jülie 
Apr 22, 2016 ☼♄Jülie  rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ☼♄Jülie  by: Self

I listened to the audio version of this book which was read by the very eloquent author.
It is a very long audio and I found it did tend to ramble on at times causing me to get a bit frustrated with it, I wanted it to get a move on.
I thought Thea was more than a bit interfering...however justified or not, and her penchant for dropping big words was a little over the top (I like author's to use a good range of words to describe what is happening within a story, but it seemed here that the author
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Thea Farmer, a seventy-seven year old retired principal, has lost all her money after her investments tanked, and is now faced with the heart-wrenching reality of selling the house she just finished building in the Blue Mountains, her dream house, and living the remainder of her days in "the hovel", the old Federation-era cottage on the original property, with her beloved dog and companion, Teddy. She sells the house to a couple who seem enthusiastic and to really care about the place. Frank ...more
Sep 08, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: australia, c21st, thriller
The Precipice, longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award is a psychological thriller, a genre with which I am not very familiar. I’ve read very few of them, enough to know that I don’t usually like the drip-feed of clues which are supposed to build tension and keep the reader enthralled to the dénouement. For reasons best known to the publisher, the dénouementin this novel is (unless the reader is remarkably dim) as-good-as given away by the cover image, the title and the blurb on the ...more
Thea Farmer, 77 year old retired school principal, had just sold her dream home, one she designed and had built as her retirement home. But the “financial crash” saw her lose everything, so the sale of her home was unavoidable. She had a small cottage across the road, which she called the hovel, into which she moved when the sale went through. Thea was a recluse who lived with her labrador Teddy, her companion for the past thirteen years, and she didn’t want anything to do with her new ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Mish rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kim Marie
This book was wonderful. It started of at a slow pace but then slowly builds up to a very dramatic ending. Thea's once calm and quiet life in the Blue Mountains is disrupted by her new neighbours Frank & Ellice. Somehow they seem to force their way into Thea's life and I could feel she was rather uncomfortable about the situation and a little anxious at the start.

Thea developed a lovely friendship with their 12 year old niece Kim. They seem to have many things in common. Their love of anima
Steve lovell
Jan 04, 2013 Steve lovell rated it really liked it
A recovering alcoholic, pregnant and with her hubby recently diagnosed with cancer, her life was spiraling out of control. Then she discovered blogging, and this saved her, gave her an alternate focus and now she has gone on to become one of Australia’s best, according to her interviewer, and making money from it to boot. Her name, I have no idea of, as I awoke temporarily from my slumbers to hear her rhapsodise on the pluses of a blog – it is my habit to have the radio on during the night ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Dee-Ann rated it really liked it
I was teetering between 4 and 5 stars. I really liked this book, I could relate to the way the character talked, the language ... even though at times I needed a dictionary ... as I have an older friend who talks the same way, has the same sardonic view on life, people etc. I was great to see it written down, but it caught me in the beginning, as I had not really read the back cover, and did not realise that it was the ramblings of an educated oldish woman. I got a real sense of location though, ...more
Mar 29, 2016 Loene rated it liked it
I read this as an audio book in my car. Narrated by the author.
I found the interfering narrator frustratingly prudish at times, but the story used this to advantage. The relationships between the characters were well drawn and sensitive and the language elegant.
The developing relationship between Thea, aging ex-principal with a cloud over her career end, and Kim, the troubled niece of Thea's new neighbours, was warming and based around a love of literature and writing. Kim's troubled past seeme
Aug 11, 2011 Jane rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2011
This book could have been good. Retired school principal, (and we all know how weird they can be)loses everything in the stockmarket crash, has to sell dream home in Blue Mountains and live in a crumbling cottage opposite. Becomes obsessed with the new neighbours and their niece, thinks the girl's uncle is a bit dodgy..takes him for a walk in the bush...and whoops! Unfortunately, Virginia Duigan made it incredibly long winded and verbose and stream of consciousness boring.
Sandra Greenwood
Dec 27, 2011 Sandra Greenwood rated it really liked it
I really like the way this book was written and could identify with the grumpy old lady who was the main character! Set in the Blue Mountains - a good read.
Sep 07, 2011 Raylea rated it liked it
Pleasant read. The writer withheld information until so late in the book (the last 3 pages) so that the end was very abrupt. Good read throughout though.
Jan 08, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
I suppose finding some sort of "pattern" in what you're reading, when you read a lot of books, is inevitable, but it always intrigues when I find that sort of co-incidence showing up. At the moment it's well-written unsympathetic, often off-putting characterisations. THE PRECIPICE has more than one of those in spades.

Thea Farmer's voice is very realistic, the retired school principal, reclusive, difficult, with a small circle of carefully chosen people she interacts with; her only soft edges co
Jan 10, 2015 Helen rated it really liked it
This story revolves around the character of Thea, a "retired" school principal who is grumpy, reclusive, difficult and often bitter. It is slowly paced but gradually builds the tension as we begin to realise that all is not right with her new neighbours and we also gradually realise why she was forced to retire. These two factors come together in a shocking conclusion. Written through Thea's eyes, the supporting characters, including her beloved dog and the neighbour's niece Kim, are well drawn. ...more
Oct 22, 2014 Monica rated it it was ok
I simply did not enjoy this book. I found the writing clumsy. It reinforced my dislike of journal-style novels. And the characters, while mildly entertaining, are unlikely to stay with me.

The book is the fictional journal of Thea Farmer, a retired school principal who wants to be a writer (a writer writing about writing, hmm yes). Thea is opinionated and strong willed and takes on her neighbours' lax approach to parenting of their fostered niece as a personal challenge. This takes a dramatic tu
Nikki Hepburn
Oct 01, 2011 Nikki Hepburn rated it liked it
I chose this to read following on from 'Flock' by Lyn Hughes, as it too is set in the Blue Mountains of which I'm fond. Being a person over a 'certain age' I appreciated the lead character's point of view, although not in agreement with all her views. Duigan describes the landscape of the Blue Mountains as an invaded space now lost to the original inhabitants, an 'acknowledgement of country', but somehow skirts over the olfactory fact so distinctive of the Australian bush. The tension between ...more
Very poor read. The mish-mash of themes ( home/house/architecture, Australian bush, being a writer ...) don't gel. The dialogue is very unconvincing thus the characters are entirely unrealistic. This is especially true for each of her neighbours, but also all of the rest, (except for the narrator and perhaps Oscar). The denouement is brief, unexpected and unsatisfying.
One pleasing aspect was the frequent cogent analyses of language, both in conversation and personal reflection. However, this do
Carolyn Mck
Jan 05, 2016 Carolyn Mck rated it liked it
Duigan’s protagonist Thea, a retired school principal living in the Blue Mountains, is a difficult character who has lost her home because of the financial crisis and has been forced to move into a next door ‘hovel’. Despite her intense desire for solitude, Thea befriends the young girl who moves in next door with her uncle and his wife. A lot goes on beneath the surface of this absorbing novel and readers are left with many questions about the choices Thea makes that lead to the novel’s ...more
Sue Warner
This is written by a friend of mine. This is her 3rd book and it's interesting to make connections to her life through her characters. So far I'm enjoying it. Love my kindle.

I hurtled through this book at a runner's pace, thoroughly enjoying it and the ending is perfect. The build up sucked me in and I was thrown out the other end like a huge wave. Well done, can't wait for the next one.
May 08, 2012 Teena rated it really liked it
Some books take the reader on a journey, sometimes to places which intrigue and frighten us. This was such a book. From the beginning there is a sense of doom, as gradually the layers are peeled off and more is revealed. I loved the characters, the setting and the storyline. The darker the plot got, the more I had to keep reading until the book stopped with a shudder. It's great to read an Australian book that is so intriguing and I want to read more by this author.
Jan 10, 2012 Brooke rated it really liked it
I missed that this was a "thriller" and because I read it on a Kindle I didn't notice the spooky cover. Until very late in the book, I was still expecting the story to resolve much differently than it does. I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the character of Thea very much, although she did take a while to warm up to. Great read.
Alison Petchell
Sep 24, 2012 Alison Petchell rated it really liked it
Picked this up on the new releases shelf at the library. Loved it! A female twist on the boy meets mentor theme. Great characters - the cynical ex-principal is very amusing and I love the relationship that develops between her and the girl who moves in across the road. Loved the setting - Blue Mountains. Loved the ending. A compelling read
Apr 17, 2013 Jill rated it liked it
Slow to start but eventually reaches a climax which has been hinted at so many times it is neither shocking as it should be nor convincing. A pity as the descriptions of the scenery in the Blue Mountains are beautiful.
Sep 17, 2012 Aileen rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
A bit rambling and to be honest I have other things I would rather read. I am afraid it was abandoned.
Sep 11, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it
A lyrical slow build and then a shocking end that left me still trying to sort out all the moral implications
Maureen rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2012
Kate rated it liked it
Nov 16, 2016
Dianne Owens
Dianne Owens rated it really liked it
Jul 03, 2011
S. rated it did not like it
May 07, 2016
Susan Davis
Susan Davis rated it it was amazing
Jan 31, 2015
Rachelle rated it liked it
Nov 16, 2012
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Virginia Duigan wrote the screenplay of the 1998 movie The Leading Man, starring Jon Bon Jovi, Thandie Newton and Barry Humphries. Before becoming a novelist, Duigan worked as a journalist, broadcaster, editor and TV scriptwriter. She was a regular feature writer on The National Times, and contributed documentaries to ABC radio. She was a freelance contributor to The Bulletin, The Age, The ...more
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