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After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

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3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  800 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
Set in the haunting landscape of eastern Australia, this is a stunningly accomplished debut novel about the inescapable past: the ineffable ties of family, the wars fought by fathers and sons, and what goes unsaid.

After the departure of the woman he loves, Frank drives out to a shack by the ocean that he had last visited as a teenager. There, among the sugarcane and sand d
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Pantheon
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Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayThe Secret River by Kate GrenvilleRabbit-Proof Fence by Doris PilkingtonLooking for Alibrandi by Melina MarchettaAll the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
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33rd out of 172 books — 30 voters
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Best Time and Place Books
19th out of 85 books — 6 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,067)
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Richard Derus
Dec 13, 2013 Richard Derus rated it it was ok
Women can be sexist pigs, too. Only thing is, it's okay when they're nasty, dismissive, judgmental about men. Don't believe me? Read AFTER THE FIRE, A STILL SMALL VOICE.

A thoroughly unpleasant book.
Marianne
Feb 20, 2016 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Eucalyptus blanketed the room. He had the feeling that the trees were peering in through the windows, that they had uprooted and crept over to take a peek. The leaves of the banana tree on the roof were a gentle tap tap tap let me in”

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice is the first novel by prize-winning Anglo-Australian author, Evie Wyld. A story that spans three generations, it is told from the perspective of Frank, who, in the present day, is fleeing behaviour he is ashamed of; and of Leon,
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Sonja
While I was reading ‘After The Fire…’, I came across this quote:

“Remember, there are two kinds of light: the steady blue flame at the heart of darkness and the false, desperate sunshine of the cheery countenance.”(1)

I’m fairly certain Evie Wyld wrote this book by the light of that steady blue flame, and not in the sunshine. It’s fairly unrelenting. I would say it’s part claustrophobia, part introspection, but mostly violence. Lots of different shades of violence.

It’s certainly an ambitious boo
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Violet wells
Strange choice of subject matter for a first time young female novelist. Evie Wyld has chosen to write a novel about male worlds as rudimentary and imminently violent as the landscapes in which her novel is set. Clearly a choice that took her way outside all her comfort zones. I’m not convinced it was the right choice as, for me, she never quite appeared in command of her characters or her story. The story alternates between a father and a son. Except the father is always shown younger than the ...more
David Hebblethwaite
I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I came across Evie Wyld’s excellent short story ‘Menzies Meat’ in the summer. In the intervening months, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice has won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and received near-unanimous praise – now here’s some more.

What’s particularly striking about the novel, looking back on it as a whole, is how quiet it is; it’s probably the quietest book I’ve read all year. Its tone is quiet, its theme is quietness – the things that aren’t
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Lisa
May 27, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Kim from Reading Matters
A most impressive debut by a very talented writer.
Evie Wyld identifies herself as English, but there is an Australian sensibility about this novel that derives from her long acquaintance with this country. It’s not just the superb evocation of our landscape, it’s also Wyld’s familiarity with the way Aussie blokes bottle up their emotions as if to let them loose is to fail a test of male identity. This is a novel about the intergenerational damage done by war, explored from that curious Australi
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Jonny
Nov 20, 2009 Jonny rated it it was amazing
Partly to try and offset the impact of some reviews I just don't understand, I'm going to review this book now.

It's. Really. Friggin. Good.

Honestly, if you like books that take you away from yourself, if you enjoy Peter Carey, Tim Winton, John McGahern, Richard Powers, books where landscape and place are another character, where human beings live the same messy lives we all do then please give this book a try. The last fifty pages had me completely compelled, turning pages as quickly as I coul
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Luke Devenish
There's some exquisite writing here. I envy Evie Wyld's clean, unvarnished style. Beautifully composed, with startling, vivid imagery in so many places. This book has bold ambitions, which I really liked it for. Parallel stories, separated by forty years, of a father and son - the father being younger than the son for much of the narrative. Each of the journeys is quite compelling, although Leon, the father's, story initially held me more. I really enjoyed the sections about his childhood in the ...more
Bonnie Brody
Feb 29, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing
This is, by far, one of the best books I have read this year. It is written in a poetic, character driven narrative by an author who appears much wiser than her years.

The story is a multi-generational dynamic of men in a family - men who have gone to war, are prone to violence and find it hard to use words to discuss their feelings. Instead of words they use alcohol, violence and avoidance.

Leon's father is a baker in Australia who signs on to fight in the Korean War. When he returns he is not th
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Julia
Nov 01, 2009 Julia rated it it was amazing
This was an impulse pick - I chose it for the title, and because it's set in Australia. What an incredible find! It' a first novel, described by the author herself as a "romantic thriller about men not talking". The story moves back and forth between father and son. This is a construction that in my opinion can be very confusing and interrupting, but here it really does serve to illustrate a generational legacy of sorrow and isolation. I was riveted.

g
Jan 06, 2015 g rated it it was amazing
This book is a small miracle, one of the best I've read in a while. It's beautifully written, subtle and powerful. It has bones and meat and blood and guts and heart and soul, not to mention a world-weary liver. Lines like this made me gasp: "A strand of hair caught in the corner of her mouth and how appalling it was that he would not be the one who was allowed to free it." The flicker of hope at the end is fragile but real. A writer to watch.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Quite an ambitious debut novel for this Australian writer. I like her prose style and her ability to create a sense of atmosphere in the story.
Remember that old saying about the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children? I think this story shows how the wounds of the fathers are passed down to the sons through the generations.

The story is set in Australia. Chapters alternate between Frank and his father Leon, although the story covers three generations, including Leon's father as wel
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Jane
Dec 02, 2010 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
It must have been towards then end of last year that I first spotted After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, cover turned out on the new books shelf in the library. Such an intriguing title. Such a beautiful cover. I had to pick it up and find out more. I was intrigued and yet I didn’t bring the book home. I wasn’t sure that it was the book for me.

But then I read so much praise for both book and author that I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. And so the next time it appeared on the shelves I
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Chaitra
I really wanted to like this book. I don't know - I don't have the greatest track record with Australia-set books. I think they lose something for me, as Australian's probably the only English dialect that I have actual trouble with. But I loved this book's title. But it didn't translated over to the love of the book. I still liked it, the prose made sure of that (and was easy to handle to an Australia-ignorant like me), but I didn't love it.

The problem is the father-son relationship as depicted
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Zachary Bush
Jun 09, 2010 Zachary Bush rated it really liked it
I ran across an Advanced Reader's/Reviewer's Edition of this book for $1.00 outside of The Strand and was initially taken with the title. Thought, what could I lose? ...nothing. This debut novel was hauntingly stunning; an absolute pleasure to read. Wylde's got guts. She has command of character conflict, detail, pacing, and dialogue. She knows how to lure the reader in ( shockingly believable through male perspectives), grab him by the throat and hold on until she's ready to let go. She had me. ...more
Alice Meloy
Aug 09, 2009 Alice Meloy rated it it was amazing
I can't believe a story this good and this well-written didn't make it to the Man Booker long list. Two apparently separate story lines gradually converge in a tough and gritty tale of the legacies of war in an Australian family. Leon's father never recovered from his Korean War experience, presaging Leon's own struggles after fighting in the Vietnam War. In an alternating story line that takes place in the very recent past, Frank attempts to find himself and start a new life in his grandparents ...more
Hugh
Jun 07, 2016 Hugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2016
This is not an easy book to write about or a comfortable read, but it is an impressive debut novel. The story alternates between the modern part, which follows Frank as he moves to his grandparents abandoned beach house to regroup after an abusive relationship, but gets caught up in local problems. The other part follows Frank's father Leon, first coming to terms with his own father's traumatic experiences of the Korean war and then as a conscript in Vietnam. These family stories are mixed with ...more
Melissa
Nov 22, 2009 Melissa rated it did not like it
In a word, awful. This has to have been one of the worst books I have ever read. I kept reading, thinking there would be some huge climax or reveal at the end, and it was nothing. How this book has a 4.0 rating is beyond me, although only 16 people have read it at this point. They must be really deep. A shallow person like myself, I can hardly wait to move on to something with a plot or at least a point.
Shivanee Ramlochan
Excerpted from the full review:

"Frank Collard turns to the wild, and his grandparents’ rustic outpost in the swamplands, when an abusively disastrous relationship shatters his heart. Lonely, he gradually inches away from being corralled by the teeming landscape that surrounds his shack, to becoming a part of it, blending gracelessly and gruffly into the local milieu. Though he adapts the semblance of a normal life, rooted in work and earnest, albeit thorny, social interaction, he shares little o
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Garry
Jul 09, 2012 Garry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Present day... Frank has left Sydney for small-town Queensland.
A generation ago... Leon leaves Sydney after being conscripted to fight in Vietnam.

After the Fire tells the story of these two men. Chapter 1 Frank, Chapter 2 Leon, Chapter 3 Frank, Chapter 4 Leon, Chapter 5 Frank.... oh, you get the drift. The format is reassuringly consistent.

Let me start with the good stuff, the reasons I've given this book 3 stars. First and foremost, the writing is beautiful - there's a good reason that this ha
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Amy
Mar 01, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
Frank has returned to his childhood playground, a beach cottage near Queensland, to sort out his life after a devastating breakup, a relationship that inevitably ended when he became physically violent with his girlfriend. He loathes what he did, and runs to hide in a place that he thinks will comfort him. Once there, memories begin to eat at him, becoming so real that he turns his head and alerts to their arrival.

He can’t relate to his new violent streak, and tries to analyze what has happened
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Our Library Mornington
Jan 19, 2011 Our Library Mornington rated it really liked it
Shelves: we-recommend
If you enjoy literary Australian fiction, then give this one a try. It is an impressive debut novel from author, Evie Wyld, who tackles the subject of father and son relationships. This compelling story centres upon a rundown shack in the sugar cane regions of Eastern Australia. Frank, his father and his grandfather have each retreated separately to the shack at some point in their lives. The building has been a haven for the men from the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Now Frank has retreated from the ...more
Sarah
Nov 29, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Debut author Wyld's After the Fire, a Still Small Voice is a quietly raging novel, full of hurt that lasts across generations. It is also intensely beautiful to read, with vivid descriptions that help to create a tone of isolation despite the numerous characters. Set in Australia, the novel follows two Collard men: Leon (the father) and Frank (the son) as each tries to reconcile his existence in the face of some form of abandonment. Frank is deeply affected by the actions and experiences of his ...more
Saysha
Feb 28, 2010 Saysha rated it liked it
Shelves: book-group
I got so tired of the descriptive language in this book (particularly about the drunken binges, violence and urination) that I literally missed the glimmer of hope at the end of it. Thank heaven for book club. The writing itself is good, and the author uses symbolism deftly and without hitting you over the head with its meaning. Occasionally I found that she used it too subtly and I was left wondering about her meaning. It's often described as a "quiet" book, and I found it more unsettling than ...more
Stephanie Pieck
Mar 14, 2016 Stephanie Pieck rated it really liked it
The alternating perspectives of Leon and Frank were like intertwining threads that drew tighter and tighter, increasing the tension until the book's heart-breaking conclusion. There were glimmers of hope, but overall, the story is a stark reminder that the patterns set by one generation have the power to transform or destroy the generations that follow. The writing was smooth, the descriptions of Australia hauntingly beautiful. I was especially moved by the passages in which Frank, who spent mos ...more
Jacqueline
The sun turned the narrow dirt track to dust. It rose like an orange tide from the wheels of the truck and blew in through the window to settle in Frank Collards arm hair. This was a really encouraging start and Evie Wyld's writing did continue to stun with some of it's descriptive prose. But then as the book "dragged" on, I started to find it repetitive. How many times did I read about leon's feet- wet in his boots? For whatever reason. Or wet faces and tongues forever lolling out of mouths? S ...more
Cathy
Jul 01, 2014 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
I picked this up because I recognised the author's name from a list of best young authors, and based on this book, she is certainly one to watch. (She has also inspired fans of this book to write some rather beautiful reviews!)

I feel rather mean only giving it 3 stars, but I think that's because I didn't ever really get truly emotionally involved in the story so couldn't quite give it 4 (my fault - because of outside factors distracting me I should have gone for something lighter and saved this
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Danielle Burns
Feb 11, 2016 Danielle Burns rated it liked it
Shelves: aww
This is a weird, at times funny, disturbing and above all very real story about the ongoing effects war can have on three generations of the one family. Roman Collard survives unnamed horrors as a child in Europe during WW2 then joins up to serve his new country in Korea. His only son Leon Collard is conscripted to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. Frank Collard lives in the shadows cast by both these men and their wars. But an isolated shack in far north Queensland will provide sanctuary for the ...more
Mark
Aug 17, 2011 Mark rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. Too many times, the smell of urine was mentioned, and soon it was all I could think about. Nobody likes that smell, so constantly mentioning it is irritating and moot. I do not recommend this book. Turgenev is Turgenev, and this is not.
Dan
Jun 12, 2015 Dan rated it it was ok
This one falls kind of squarely in the "good enough" category for me. As a reading experience it had enough action to pull you steadily forward through the book and some moments of brilliance, especially in description. It was an impressively male book to have been written by a woman- all of the main characters are male, their major conflicts revolve around the very male occupations of war and violence and all of that was executed believably enough that I think the book would read identically if ...more
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