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Disquiet

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,258 ratings  ·  358 reviews
Olivia arrives at her mother's chateau in rural France (the first time in more than a decade) with her two young children in tow. Soon the family is joined by Olivia's brother Marcus and his wife Sophie-but this reunion is far from joyful. After years of desperately wanting a baby, Sophie has just given birth to a stillborn child, and she is struggling to overcome her deva ...more
ebook, 128 pages
Published November 25th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,150)
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karen
while the story is good; it reads like an ian mcewan or william trevor, i really have to stop myself from reading tiny little books because i always want more... the main "ew" of the story is fully dealt with, but there are some matters regarding ancillary characters that i would like to know more about... only big girl books from now on!!
Michelle
This novella may be read in an evening. I can't argue that the writing itself was very good, and that it read like a film.

I will say that I wasn't particularly moved by the story of a woman who, with her two children, fled her abusive husband and unexpectedly arrived on her estranged mother's doorstep. The woman's brother, his wife, and their stillborn baby joined them shortly thereafter.

How did the character deal with the loss of her baby? By dragging it around with her for days and days. What
...more
Bogydog
The word "disquiet" is defined as: "1. lack of calm, peace, or ease; anxiety; uneasiness." And I can't think of a better title for this haunting book. The novella is tiny, a pamphlet-ish work that can be read in around an hour-and-a-half. But the strange and uneasy feeling you get from the book lasts much longer. It's not horror by any means, but it feels constantly strange and mysterious. You are invited to spend some time with a family "in extremis", and the short time you spend with them is, ...more
Denis
I had decided early on not to write here about books that I didn't like - and there are quite a few. But I guess a rant, now and then, is good - and this book has truly annoyed me a great deal, not only because it's simply bad, but also because it has gotten some inexplicable rave reviews that seem to have turned this novella into a kind of hip gothic book to read. Leigh has one thing for her: she knows how to write, she uses words with some style and a certain elegance. But that doesn't save he ...more
Nick Cato
Although only 121 pages, this expertly-written novella is one of the finest tales I've read in 2008.

After digesting it for over a month, and re-reading it again today, I can say Julia Leigh's DISQUIET is must reading for anyone who takes writing seriously, or for readers who want to see how BIG a story can be by keeping details to a bare minimum.

While basically a gothic family saga, DISQUIET's unusual views on misplaced motherhood, dark relationships and depression despite wealth had me from the
...more
Lauren Fidler
2.5 stars...show me on the dollie where the bad book touched you.

the pros:

1. the claustrophobia in conjunction with the surrealist approach to setting. the juxtaposition of a state of the art freezer in an ancient french chateau. i felt like i should be in the fifties until uncle marcus pulled out a cellphone to enjoy a little phone sex / mid-mornin' masturbation with his mistress. yeah. i just wrote that.

2. writing like a bad dream. i guess the phrase i'd use to describe this book is "gothic ni
...more
Eleanor
I'm not sure when a novella has been more aptly titled. I read it today at the bookstore (it will be available in bookstores in November 2008), and while blurbs compared it to other, more contemporary writers, Shirley Jackson sprang to mind for me.

An abused young mother returns to her family homestead with her two children, and is joined there by her brother and his wife who have just experienced the stillbirth of their first child. More is unsaid than said, but in sparse, brooding snippets a de
...more
Elizabeth Wallace
I admit it, I don't "get" this book. It's beautifully written, a wonderful eerie style, but you get to the end and think "...and?" I don't have to have endings spelled out for me, it's nice to read in between the lines and figure out what's going on, but I think Leigh went a little TOO far in that respect, for me anyway. Everybody has the lightest sketch of a background, and you end up wanting a LOT more information, not in a pleasant, "I wonder what was going on with so and so" kind of way, but ...more
Jordan
Mar 30, 2014 Jordan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jordan by: Elizabeth
Upon finishing this book, I said to myself, "Wonderful, another brilliant novella with a shitty cover."

And my, it is a shitty cover.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize: it's impossible to design a cover that adequately captures the power of every action, every word, spoken or unspoken, that flows through these pages. An unsettling premise, stylized to the moon, and shaking your every instinct as a human being who, presumably, has loved and yearned.

No wonder the jacket designer we
...more
Doug Bradshaw
Reading a novella like this is like watching a great little movie late at night. It was a couple of hours of intense reading and mystery with characters that are immediately interesting and somehow lost in life's tougher tragedies, a terribly abusive husband (the murderer), a stillborn birth that almost destroys a distraught mother, accidents waiting to happen to young curious children on a large estate where there is a lake and leaky boats. It all happens in an old and almost abandoned and yet ...more
Paul
This very short book was heavily hyped on both the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly Best of 2008 lists, but I was incredibly underwhelmed. Random bits and pieces of creeping dread are thrown in from time to time and nothing is ever explained and there is no plot. A dead baby is introduced, carried around and buried without much comment. An extramarital affair, spousal abuse, and murders both past and future are alluded to but never explored. So, in short, about 100 pages of gothic atmosph ...more
Laura
A beautifully written novella. It is as though she took great care to craft every sentence. Her writing provides just enough details to let you fill in the rest with your imagination. As I read the story played in my mind like a soft and provocative foreign film. The characters are damaged and sad, particularly Sophie, a woman who brings home her stillborn child and has a difficult time letting go. I would love to see this as a film.
Chris Wolak
Disquiet by Julia Leigh is a creepy novella. It’s a disjointed, disconnected story about people who are disconnect from one another as well as themselves. It’s a story full of symbolism and foreshadowing (of a sort).

It’s one of those books that cause people to say Leigh is a “writer’s writer.” Toni Morrison, J.M. Coetzee, and Don DeLillo have blurbs on the book, so there you have it.

I came across Disquiet on my local library shelves while browsing for thin books to consider for Dewey’s 24 Hour R
...more
Rhonda
Dark tale. Read it all, but didn't like it.
Becky
I picked this one up on a whim at the library, drawn in by the title and the cover, which is beautiful. Unfortunately, I don't think that the story really lived up to the expectations I formed based on them.

An abused woman flees her "Murderer", or her abusive husband, with their two kids, and takes them to her estranged mother's french chateau. The woman's brother and sister-in-law, who has just delivered a stillborn baby after years of trying to become pregnant soon arrive on the scene as well
...more
Sarah
The thing I found most interesting about this book was how the characters are completely shut off from each other, both by the distance created by years and by an inability to express themselves verbally to each other. Even the mother doesn't seem to care much for her young children, she offers to give them to her grieving brother. The writing was gorgeous and very descriptive. I could tell that each word was specifically chosen to serve a purpose.

I found calling Olivia "the woman" was quite an
...more
Iowa City Public Library
Sometimes the title of a book just couldn’t be more perfect. In the mere 120 pages of this novella, Australian author Julia Leigh creates a world of pain and unease in which each character seems to be teetering on the brink of emotional or physical oblivion.

The story begins with a woman and her two children entering the grounds of a French chateau through a doorway in a wall overgrown with vines. We learn that she is coming back to her mother’s home after 12 years living with an abusive husband.
...more
Jason Pettus
Heavy readers know that there's a specific format in literature out there that's not only difficult to know what to do with, but is indeed designed specifically for a small niche crowd to begin with -- character-oriented novellas, that is, written by academes for other academes, stories too long for most magazines but too short to make for a compelling full-length book, which then tend to get published as these strange little overpriced booklet things destined to appeal only to fellow professors ...more
Tiffany
I found this novella to be truly awful. I wanted to like it, I really did. The plot and description of the characters seemed to be a story right up my alley, but after 30 pages of the only 121 pg book, I couldn't take it any more. Every sentence seemed to be trying too hard, several other reviews say "crafted with care" or beautifully written", but these beautiful words, but did not equate to a beautiful or believable story, for me. Every interaction seemed awkward, every event overly dramatic, ...more
Alan
just got this out the library, saw it as I went to pick up reservations. Very short, probably finish it tomorrow.

I liked the atmosphere the author creates - I like the profanity of the girl (I can smell your vulva - she says to her brother!), and the house, the grounds, the characters are creepy/weird.. but I kept thinking of things as logistically wrong, like the lake they have in their grounds, at the other end of which are mountains and villages. If that's the case the lake must extend past t
...more
Rosanne
This book had been suggested by the nextreads.com from my library. While at the library, I noticed the book on the shelf and decided to give it a try. I read the book in 3 hours and I can't stop talking about it. This book was bizarre and wonderful all at the same time. I found the characters strangely fascinating. I would have never in a million years chosen this book to read had I read the cover thoroughly. This certainly gives new power to the saying "never judge a book by it's cover". I have ...more
David
Interesting, but not quite fascinating. I picked this up because I found Leigh's film Sleeping Beauty to be almost great... yet not even close to great because of a lead actress that was utterly not up to the task. (Or maybe, just maybe, a director who couldn't give the lead actress the right instructions, or some combination of the two.) Leigh's got a great eye, both in the film and in this (unrelated) novella. Sleeping Beauty was disturbingly elusive and perverse, and I kept hoping this might ...more
Christina
This was one of the most dark, depressing, and eerie books that I've read since reading the book "Room". The book is about Olivia, who hasn't seen her family in 12 years, finally visits her mother at the chateau as a result of leaving her abusive husband. Soon after, Olivia's brother arrives at the chateau with his wife Sophia and their still born child. Marcus and Sophia need to bury their child, but doesn't because of Sophia's grief. Instead, Sophia needs to get to know her child before buryin ...more
Tiffany
Jan 05, 2009 Tiffany rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tiffany by: EW Grade A
Shelves: ew-picks
EW #7 FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR
I was completely underwhelmed by this highly recommended book. The review made me believe that I would be on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen to these characters, when in fact the opposite happened. I was on the edge of my seat, trying to finish this book as quickly as possible. That is one of the few good things about this book; it ends quickly. Other than that, it was depressing and did not flesh out the characters enough to my liking.
John
I recently watched and very much liked the movie The Hunter, based on another of Leigh's books; with the movie so fresh in my mind I decided it might be better to try a different book by her. The rave reviews on the back were additional inducement, even though I nowadays almost entirely ignore these things.

And now I know why. This shortish novella is moderately well written, if somewhat preciously, but that for me is about as much as it has going for it. The plot has a good beginning, gropes aro
...more
Liz
Disquiet can easily be described as a modern-day Gothic family drama. It manages to do in 120 pages what V. C. Andrews's ghost writer couldn't do in a five-book series. (Of course, Disquiet is free of any incest (intentional or accidental), so V. C. Andrews may not be the best comparison).

Olivia, with her two children, Andrew and Lucy, have escaped her abusive husband and returned to her mother's home, a chateau in rural France, for the first time in nearly a decade. As Olivia's mother's health
...more
Jill
It took me about an hour and a half to read this novella...and what a strange little story it was. A dead baby, a weird grandmother, creepy children -- and that's only scratching the surface! Yet somehow, I liked it. The writing was descriptive, but not overly so (thank God!), and the words just seemed to flow from one paragraph to the next. I kind of feel like I just danced a slow, mesmerizing waltz...while in The Twilight Zone. Disquiet indeed.
Pam
A beautifully constructed prose piece (novella),
filled with artifice of the right kind. It's a strange tale set in a French chateau and it seems to have sent reviewers
scurrying after a category. They usually settle for 'Gothic' - I don't think so. I see the book as sliding
through various 'categories' like German Romanticism,
French nouveau roman (Michel Butor, shades of Nathalie Sarraute), mystery.
J
Pretty good short story. Better than most. I liked it better the second time around. I appreciate the slowness with which Leigh writes, capturing all the little details and nuances of the characters in the brief time we see them.
Nicholas During
I think I have a new definition of the word "creepy," it would be: read this book, which is pretty much the creepiest book I think I may have ever read. It reminds me a bit of Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson, though it straddles the line of the "horror" or "suspense" genre to good effect I think. My only problem with the book is that all the "doubles" don't really work. The twins and the brothers and sisters; the mothers who have lost children or are about to; the mother dealing with a fea ...more
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Julia Leigh (b. 1970) is an Australian novelist, film director and screenwriter.

Born in 1970 in Sydney, Australia,[ Leigh is the eldest of three daughters of a doctor and maths teacher. She initially studied law but shifted to writing. For a time she worked at the Australian Society of Authors. Her mentors included leading authors Frank Moorhouse and Toni Morrison.

Leigh is the author of the novels
...more
More about Julia Leigh...
The Hunter Leesgids Australië: Verhalen uit en over Australië

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