Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bereft” as Want to Read:
Bereft
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bereft

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,080 ratings  ·  207 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
...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by SilverOak (first published 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bereft, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bereft

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
101st out of 151 books — 266 voters
A Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayIn a Sunburned Country by Bill BrysonOn the Beach by Nevil Shute
Books Set in Australia
82nd out of 427 books — 119 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,138)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
karen
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
...more
Sharon
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
...more
Brenda
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
☼♄Jülie
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 long...in exile.

Ten years earlier at age sixteen, Quinn suddenly fled his home and family after he was discovered by his fat
...more
Sally906
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
...more
Kinga
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
...more
David
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
...more
Alex
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
...more
Mish

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
...more
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
...more
Beadyjan
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
...more
Lisa
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
Kathryn
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)
‘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
...more
Sarah
Oct 12, 2011 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
thewanderingjew
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
...more
Debbie
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
...more
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
Jillwilson
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: http://www.virtualsalt.com/gothic.htm. These included:
-atmosphere of m
...more
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
Kimba
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
D.A.Calf
[3.15]

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
...more
Karen
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
...more
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
...more
Amy
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
...more
Pat
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
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 down....so many books to read...so 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
Liz
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
Morag77
This is really not my kind of book. I've decided I don't like the 'gothic' genre much, if it's about ghosts that might be ghosts or might not. And the language was a little to flowery for me. Mice 'skitter' or 'scamper': they never simply run. The prose wasn't quite purple, but I thought it was a light mauve. Also, it was very very bleak. I might not have been in the right mood for it. I gave it three stars because I can see that it was well-written in parts and imaginative and I can definitely ...more
Denis Vukosav
Chris Womersley is award-winning Australian journalist and writer whose work has, among other things, recognized by the fact that in his writings in the center of his narrative (and therefore interpretation) sets the area of Australia, the physical cruelty of the continent and the interweaving of diverse ethnic groups, as well as their joint creation history. ‘Bereft’ is the novel in which the dependence and vulnerability of the characters as opposed to space is brought to the limit; space deter ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 71 72 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Animal People
  • Poet's Cottage
  • Foal's Bread
  • Blood
  • The Broken Shore
  • Nine Days
  • Five Bells
  • Past the Shallows
  • Coal Creek
  • Beams Falling
  • Moonlight Downs (Emily Tempest, #1)
  • The Pages
  • That Deadman Dance
  • Silent Fear (Detective Ella Marconi, #5)
  • The Strays
  • The Railwayman's Wife
  • Prime Cut
  • The Diggers Rest Hotel (Charlie Berlin, #1)
1969313
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.

More about Chris Womersley...
Cairo The Low Road The Mare's Nest / A Rope Stretched Between (RAF Vol 11 issue 3) The Counterfeiters The Best Australian Stories 2012

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“False assurances were certainly more harmful than none at all.” 3 likes
“Stories are rarely only stories” 2 likes
More quotes…