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3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,256 Ratings  ·  221 Reviews
The year is 1919 and the Great War has ended. Sergeant Quinn Walker--with a damaged body and soul from his wartime experiences--decides to return home to the small and desolate town of Flint, Australia, to set right the past. Ten years earlier, he had fled following the horrific rape and murder of his beloved younger sister Sarah--a crime that everyone, including his famil
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by SilverOak (first published 2010)
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A Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughIn a Sunburned Country by Bill BrysonPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayOn the Beach by Nevil Shute
Books Set in Australia
75th out of 529 books — 155 voters
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceThe Chemistry of Tears by Peter CareyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2012
102nd out of 151 books — 268 voters

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Community Reviews

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oh, i don't know...

if i had to judge this book based on "the author's ability to manipulate language in a way that pleases the reader and creates a haunting, atmospheric tale," it would get high marks.

but if i had to judge it on "the author's ability to tell a freaking story with compelling and believable characters," it would fall down hard.

australian gothic, it should be awesome, right? postwar, flu-ridden australia, where men carry guns and hanging is still an accepted practice, with justice
In 1909 twelve year old Sarah Walker is found brutally raped and murdered in a shed in a small town of Flint in New South Wales. Standing over her with the bloodied knife in his hand is her sixteen year old brother Quinn. Their father Nathaniel and uncle Robert are the first ones to discover what has just happened. Quinn immediately runs off and and no one hears from him until years later when his mother receives a telegram telling her that Quinn was killed in the war.

Ten years later Quinn retur
As Sergeant Quinn Walker contemplated the vast blue ocean surrounding him with the murmur of the other soldiers behind him, he wondered at life – wondered at his survival while many others did not. The Military Cross he had received for bravery; acts he couldn’t remember but received assurances of the lives he had saved. The bitterness was deep within him, the savagery intense as he hurled the award far into the ocean, imagining it sinking into the depths as he sometimes wished he could do. The ...more
Jan 15, 2015 ☼♄Jülie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All lovers of a Good Book!
Bereft by Chris Womersley

Its 1919 and Quinn Walker has returned from the great war, physically and mentally scarred in so many ways.
After experiencing the atrocities of war, he keenly misses his family..especially his mother..he wants to return to his home town of Flint in western New South Wales, but is unsure of the reception that awaits him if he returns there after so exile.

Ten years earlier at age sixteen, Quinn suddenly fled his home and family after he was discovered by his fat

Quinn Walker has returned from WWI to the small home town that he fled 10 years earlier when he was caught red handed holding the knife that killed his 12 year old sister, Sarah. As a result his guilt has been assumed by the town and he knows he will be hung if ever caught. Now he has returned seeking justice and revenge for his sister's death. Finding the town in the grips of the 1919 flu epidemic, he hides out in the bush where he encounters a strange, mystical young girl, Sadie, recently orph
Oct 13, 2011 Sally906 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The blurb of BEREFT describes it as a gothic novel – dark and brooding. And after looking in my dictionary I discovered that the word ‘bereft’ is a verb of the word bereaves which means to deprive and make desolate as a result of death. Sure sums up the basis of this very well written novel. So well written in fact, that it is hard to do justice to it in a review, but I will do my best, I don’t have the mastery for writing that Chris Womersley undoubtable has.

Opening in 1909 Quinn Walker is assu
Sep 05, 2012 Kinga rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is only so much one can read about little girls murdered by big bad men. I know it makes for an easy plot, but, dear writers, give me a break!

And it is such a shame, because Chris Womersley knows how to write. As in he can produce beautiful sentences. He can create great atmosphere – there is Australia, First World War and epidemic. There could be a way better story cooked with those ingredients but Womersley goes for the cliché. I’m yet to read a book where the big bad child murderer/pedo
Sep 28, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel by Australian author Chris Womersley and is set in the fictitious outback NSW town of Flint before, during and directly after World War I.

Quinn Walker is the 'bereft' character who from the age of 16 has endured a life of abject misery. Accused of murdering his beloved younger sister, fleeing the scene and then surviving WWI at the frontline in Gallipoli and France as a decorated soldier, Quinn sneaks back to his hometown some 10 years later. There he finds his mother dy
Mar 28, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
This is one book I didn't want to end. It is a beautifully written story of utmost tragedy and suffering, it's protagonist, Quinn Walker, returning to his small outback hometown after ten years to resolve the murder of his younger sister. The catalyst for this was surviving the horrors of WW1, a major theme of this book.

He finds the town, indeed the country, he has returned to in the grip of the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1919. In this, he has returned from a horrifying and brutal field of de

This is a touching and beautifully written book. Set in 1900 in a small town of Flint NSW. Quinn, a 15year old boy, has been accused of murdering his younger sister Sarah. His father and uncle wants Quinn caught and punished for this horrendous crime. Young Quinn who is frightened, panics and flees the crime scene. He later joins the army only to survive WW2 with severe facial injuries, breathing difficulties from exposure of poisonous gas, and is mentally distressed by the death of his sister a
Melbourne Library Service
Definitely one of my favourite reads ever, and one book I recommend to almost everyone, this is a haunting Australian story which stayed with me long after I read it.
Descriptively beautiful, the sense of place evoked by the author is painfully bleak, instantly recognisable and simply put, stunning. The writing is subtle and draws you ever so gently into the story until you are thoroughly in its grip. This is a dark and brooding book, although not without hope and joy in parts. A disfigured man
Oct 15, 2012 Beadyjan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A touching if rather bleak look at the unlikely friendship which develops between a 1st world war veteran and a young orphan during the flu epidemic of 1919 in Australia.

Quinn left his home town of Flint at the age of 16 under a cloud after a terrible event which leaves a lasting mark on him. He has since seen sights in the trenches which no young man could experience without being deeply affected.

It is in this fragile state of mind that he returns to his childhood home seeking peace of mind and
Bereft is a fascinating novel for fans of the gothic. There is a crime, but the interest in this story is nothing to do with whodunnit. That’s obvious from early on; it’s the story of a man coming-to-terms with his own life that makes it such a compelling tale. The characterisation is memorable, and Womersley’s prose and imagery is so vivid that I found myself stopping to savour it often. My reading journal is full of superb quotations and images that I copied out by hand as examples of a writer ...more
I liked parts of this book - I liked the first 200 pages, or thereabouts. I found the story interesting, I felt sorry for Quinn and was curious about the young orphan girl he meets, Sadie. But I felt it all went pear-shaped around 200 pages in (with a few hints of the way it was heading earlier in the book - but I was hoping I was wrong!) and I just found it all very strange. Once the witchcraft started in earnest, this book was a lost cause as far as I was concerned.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jun 29, 2015 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘On the day twelve-year-old Sarah Walker was murdered in 1909, a storm bullied its way across the western plains of New South Wales and unleashed itself on the flyspeck town of Flint.’

Who murdered Sarah Walker? Sarah’s 16 year old brother Quinn was found next to her body with a knife in his hand. He fled.
Ten years later – some three years after his mother had received a telegram stating that he is missing in France and presumed dead – Quinn is on his way home. Ex- sergeant Quinn Walker is one of
Oct 12, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
In 1909 at the age of 16, Quinn Walker is accused of killing his 12 year old sister, Sarah, and flees the small rural community of Flint in fear of retribution. Ten years later at the end of World War I, he returns to the town a designated war hero, befriends a mysterious orphan girl by the name of Sadie Frost, and together they seek refuge in the hills and scrub surrounding the township. The unlikely duo set about righting the wrongs that continue to be committed against the vulnerable and inno ...more
Apr 20, 2012 thewanderingjew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short, but very intense novel, takes place in Australia, in the second decade of the twentieth century, in the years just preceding the war to end all wars, World War I, and the years just afterwards. It is a murder mystery, infused with the supernatural. There are séances with visionaries, magic spells, amulets and spirits.

The author’s prose will keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. His descriptions of murder, the horrors of war and the ravages of disease, a
Mar 05, 2012 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1909 in Flint a small town in New South Wales Australia twelve year old Sarah Walker was brutally raped and murdered, she was discovered in a shed at Wilson’s Point by her father Nathaniel and her uncle Robert. Bloodied and holding the knife that killed her was her sixteen year old brother Quinn. Upon being found Quinn disappeared never to be seen again, of course the gossip mill was ripe and the rumors flying about how their relationship was a bit closer than should be.
Ten years later batter
Bruno Bouchet
Being given a book for your birthday that you normally wouldn’t chose, is like being taken the movies by your parents when you don’t know what film you’re going to see. You have to work through your instinctive apathy to enjoy the experience. Thus it was for me with Bereft. I’d have never chosen this book and on the surface it seems typical of the miserable books the friend who gave it to me reads. (I’m always teasing him about his wrist-slitting bookshelves) A soldier returns from the First Wor ...more
Oct 24, 2011 Jillwilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, would like to give this 4 and a half. I loved reading this book. It is so visual - the landcsape - Western NSW is like a character in the novel which is set just after WW1 in the horror of returning soldiers, the Spanish flu and a horrible small town rape-murder. It is described in many reviews as 'gothic' - which meant that I went and did some reserach about this term. This useful site listed a number of key ingredients: These included:
-atmosphere of m
Tara Calaby
This is an excellent book and a powerful – if not at all times enjoyable – read. There is a poetic feel to the language and a tangibility to the landscapes in which the novel is set. While not getting caught up in description, Womersley still manages to paint a vivid scene inside the reader's head. The storyline is fairly simple, yet placed against the backdrop of the Great War and the Spanish flu epidemic, its tragedy is emphasised. A slight hint of magic realism adds to the book's overall feel ...more
May 10, 2012 Kimberly rated it really liked it
This was a breath-taking historical novel that takes place in the small town of Flint, Australia in the year 1909. Twelve year old Sarah Walker is raped and murdered. Her brother sixteen year old Quinn is discovered over the body with a knife. He runs away and is never seen again. Later, his parents receive a telegram that he died in action during the war. Quinn, now physically scared returns to Flint to seek answers and clear his name. Womersley spun a wonderful tale, with complex characters th ...more

Beware: 'Bereft' is book-ended by two passages that could have come straight out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. In fact the first page bears a striking resemblance to elements of 'Child of God'. Doubtless, Womersley is a fan.

In essence 'Bereft' is an Australian gothic. Set in rural New South Wales, it has over it the pall of the First World War and the outbreak of the Spanish flu. It feels a little 'And the Ass Saw the Angel', a little 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' and a whole lot second-rate McC
Aug 23, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
The frustrating thing about discussing a book like BEREFT is the reason Womersley's the author, and I'm the reader. How do you put into words something as moving, involving, immersing as BEREFT and make it intelligible? No idea, so let's go with the next best option.

"A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice" sounds, to be frank, not my sort of thing. It's probably the juxtaposition of "gothic" and "love" that somehow or other has my befuddled brain thinking "regency" / "romance". No i
Bronwyn Mcloughlin
I listened to the Bolinda recording of this one which may perhaps have had a negative impact on my enjoyment of this. A few details grated with me from the first, things that I felt were inaccurate - I could be entirely wrong, but I though that Australian soldiers wore great coats, not trench coats, and that it would be unusual for a non-officer to demob with a service revolver. Probably not impossible, but unlikely. Likewise an MC would not be awarded to any one except officers in WWI.

I've pro
Feb 04, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the story of Quinn Walker, who leaves home suddenly and under suspicion when his sister is murdered. He joins Australia's efforts in WWI, travels the world, and returns with a dangerous desire to go back to the small town that would love to string him up for the crime.

Injured in the War, he suffers from the loss of a portion of his face, injuries from the mustard gas, and all the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At points early on, it's easy to question whether he is recounting e
Jan 17, 2014 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A good read but also a strange one. The story is about Quinn Walker returning home after the first World War and trying to 'set right' the murder of his sister Sarah. He meets and befriends an orphan girl Sadie Fox, who is the same age as his sister at the time of her murder. The story is very well written and I liked the character development, however at times I was not sure if things were real or if this was a ghost story - maybe that is a strong point for the novel. A good read and the novel ...more
Helena (Renchi King)
Tako obečavajuća priča...a tako "mlaki" završetak!
Čitala sam iščekivajući..ono nešto,već jedanput! Nema! Ne tražite uzbuđenje.I zaplet je bezvezan,konfuzan..
U jednom trenutku sam pomislila da je Quinn ustvari mrtav i da se negdje susreo sa sestrom.
Imam dojam da je pisac nešto dobro smislio i onda,usput,to zaboravio..krenuo drugim putem.
Nije loše,ovo mu je prvi roman.
Catherine Rolfe
This book has me stumped as to whether I really enjoyed it or couldn't stand it. Initially I was excited, it had me interested within the first 10 or 20 pages (well within my '50 page rule'...if it doesn't grab me in the first 50 pages, it gets put many books to little time!) and I read it quickly, with true interest and desire to see what happens. But it was kind of like stumbling across a nasty accident, or a documentary on serial killers while you're channel flicking...yo ...more
This was one of our book club reads for 2012 and I really enjoyed it as did our group. It is a really moving story based in Australia at the end of World War One and a epidemic of influenza racing through the Country. A young soldier damaged by war returns home to try and make sense and avenge the death of his young sister a decade before. In doing so he befriends a young orphan girl of a similar age to his sister when she died. This book is haunting, mystical and a page turner until the very en ...more
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Chris Womersley (born 1968 in Melbourne, Victoria) is an Australian author of crime fiction, short stories and poetry. He trained as a radio journalist and has travelled extensively to such places as India, South-East Asia, South America, North America, and West Africa.[1] He currently lives in Melbourne, VIC.

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“To survive one tragedy was to learn you cannot survive them all, and this knowledge was both a freedom and a great loss.” 3 likes
“False assurances were certainly more harmful than none at all.” 3 likes
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