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The Lost Child

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Sylvie lives in Burley Point, a fishing village south of the Coorong on Australia's wild southern coast.

She tries to make sense of her mother's brooding, and her father's violent moods. She worships her big brother, Dunc, but when he goes missing, she's terrified it's her fault. The bush and the birds and the endless beach are her only salvation, apart from her teacher, M
Paperback, 287 pages
Published February 26th 2014 by Text Publishing (first published February 24th 2014)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  153 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Dale Harcombe
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is a lot to like about this debut novel by Suzanne McCourt. She obviously knows the area well having grown up on the wild southern coast of South Austral and it shows in the way settings are portrayed. Some of the writing is just beautiful ‘where the sky falls into the sea and clouds spin out of the trees,’ or the ‘farms are a green rug’ and ‘I listen to the wind as it bickers and brawls.’ There are many more examples I could have plucked out. The dialogue and expressions resonate with Aus ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like other reviewers have said, I feel like Sylvie was the real lost child in this story. So many things were happening around her, that no one seemed to think to check up on her very much. She seemed like an inconvenience to most people. I felt sorry for her (and her mum) most of the time. 1950s Burley Point was a hard place to live in.
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Lost Child is the first novel by Australian author, Suzanne McCourt. When Sylvie Meehan is almost five, she is living in the small fishing village of Burley Point on the southern coast of Australia, with her Mum, Nella, her Dad Mick and her older brother Dunc. Soon, she’ll be going to school, but just now she wishes her Dad loved her as much as he loves Dunc, and that her Mum and Dad could get on a bit better. She knows that her Dad doesn’t talk to Uncle Ticker, that he won’t go out to see G ...more
Hazel Edwards
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Bitter-sweet ,sustained childhood viewpoint of Sylvie who is not the only 'lost' child in this story. Childhoods can be full of lost opportunities and casual kindnesses and cruelties. You know she will survive but the author paces the tragi-comedy in a way that reassures the reader who wants to keep reading. The writing style reminds me of the quality of Ruth Park's writing in evoking the strengths and weaknesses of a small community and the tragedies and humour amongst the everyday. Both the mo
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘You can forget everything if you want to.’

The novel opens in the 1950s, when Sylvie is five, and trying to make sense of her world. Sylvie lives with her parents and older brother Dunc, in a fishing village south of Coorong on Australia’s south coast. Her mother seems preoccupied, her father is moody, and Dunc has his own world to explore and occupy. Sylvie is invisible to her father, who has eyes only for Dunc, and for the woman he has taken up with who lives across the lagoon.

‘My father has
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The lost child is a WONDERFUL debut novel by Suzanne McCourt.
From the first page of this book I was totally engrossed. The voice of Sylvie hooked me and never let me go. Even after finishing the book I am still back in Sylvie's world. This is the book I am going to tell anybody who will listen they MUST read. The story is told from a child's perspective, I think this is what made the voice so gripping and vulnerable. A bittersweet story beautifully told. The only thing I am disappointed about,
Emma Darcy
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
any time anyone says they were born in the wrong time period and wished they lived in the 50s, they should be made to read this for a short sharp and bleak wake up call.

usually when other characters criticise the protagonist for being self absorbed you go "no, they're just misunderstood!" but Sylvie really is utterly self absorbed and oblivious and I spent much of the book muttering under my breath "for God's SAKE, Sylvie!"

*I should also say, of course, that this book is about a woman who has t
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-in-english
What a wonderful coming-of-age story! But it's also heartbreaking and evoked a lot of emotions in me, from rage to infinite sadness and despair, speckled with some laughter (mainly through tears though). Sylvie, the protagonist, is such a great character, and I was rooting for her from the very beginning. I didn't expect this book to take me on such an emotional ride. Still, I would actually love to read a sequel! This is Suzanne McCourt's debut novel (she's published short stories and poems too ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-great-reads
This is a beautifully written book. The story is told by Sylvie, child of an alcoholic father and a mother who has mental health problems. They live on the Coorong, on the Southern coast of Australia, and Sylvie has a hard life. The voice is authentic, and the sense of place is wonderful. Not an easy read, the story is painful, but worth it for the great writing, and for Sylvie who is a terrific character.
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This was a lovely book - a very touching story about a little girl called Sylvie growing up in a small town on the south coast of Australia in the 1950s. It is a tough childhood - her father has returned from WWII after the bombing of Darwin as an alcoholic: trying to drown the memories, and spends his time with women other than his wife. In the end, her parents are divorced, and her mother is ostracised by the small community in which they live, suffering mental problems as a result.

The book is
Michael Livingston
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a lovely, sad novel set in 1950s and 60s regional Australia and telling the story of a young girl's coming of age, as she struggles with a neglectful father, over-stressed mother, grinding poverty and the disappearance of her brother. It's told through the child's eyes, which initially grated on me - I've read too many books recently where part of the narrative charm has been the inability of the narrator to understand things that the reader quickly figures out. I eventually warmed to th ...more
John Bartlett
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wanted never for this book to end. I was totally captivated by the voice and life of Sylvie, her family and the characters who populate her world.
This 'coming of age' story covers familiar ground but does it in an original way.
The landscape of the Coorong is a startling character, dialogue totally convincing.
There's humour, tragedy and a story that makes the reader ache for Sylvie's well-being.
As they say Suzanne McCourt just might be a writer to keep an eye on.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author has a keen eye and ear for detail and the writing chops to deliver a tale as bleak as the winters in Burley Point. THE LOST CHILD and its cast of lost children, Sylvie, Mick, Nella, Bullfrog, Pardie, Mrs. Winkie, Uncle Ticker, Chicken McCready, Mr. Sweet, Nobby Carter, and Dunc will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the last page.
Sally Hepworth
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful debut novel, told so beautifully and authentically through a child's eyes.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Of Suzanne McCourt’s debut, The Lost Child, the Weekend Australian writes that ‘there’s a watchful intensity to McCourt’s writing, a remarkable ability to discover within the most concrete details a rich and raw emotion’. The Lost Child takes place in Burley Point, a fishing village in southern Australia, during the 1950s, and has been compared to work by the likes of Anne Tyler and Eudora Welty.

Sylvie Meehan, our child narrator, is just four years old when the book begins. She is perceptive; sh
Clare Rhoden
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful novel which intrigued me from the start. Sylvie is a treat - a brilliant narrator. It's also very refreshing to have a novel set so convincingly in Australia, and also well written. Highly recommended.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Nice book
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
The Lost Child is a book that I read as a book club selection. It is the first novel written by Australian author Suzanne McCourt. Narrated entirely from a young girl’s perspective, Sylvie is five when the reader first meets her. The book spans a number of years set in the 1950’s-60’s, following events in Sylvie’s life as she makes the transition from child to adult. Immediately it becomes clear that Sylvie is a survivor, despite being the product of a dysfunctional family. Sylvie’s Mother is de ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
The title of The Lost Child may feel like it obviously refers to the brother who goes missing, but it could easily also refer to Sylvie, a child lost between the conflict and issues of her parents, and the tragedy of her brother's disappearance. Sylvie grows up in Burley Point, an isolated, rough-as-guts coastal town on Australia's south coast. Her family has its own set of problems – her father is violent and distant, her mother is unstable and smothering. Things reach breaking point when her p ...more
Carolyn Mck
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: aww15
This is a sad book as the title suggests it will be. I don't mind 'sad' if it is done really well and for the first half of this novel, it is. The novel is set south of the Coorong in South Australia - a remote, wild part of the world where the main occupations are farming and lobster fishing. The novel conveys a strong sense of place - the beauty and the loneliness of the scrub and the sea as well as the often claustrophobic nature of small town life.

The novel is narrated throughout by the cha
Bronwyn Mcloughlin
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Being lost doesn't mean you are physically absent, of course, and this novel involves both kinds of lost children. It is set in 1950s-1960s coastal South Australia, and the sense of place and time is strongly evoked, through social mores and beautifully pictured landscapes. Sylvie's is the point of view that describes our interactions with her family and the town society. Her confusion, her emotions, her misapprehensions about what is going on around her provide our only clues as to unfolding ev ...more
Pauline Luke
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing

The Lost Child by Suzanne McCourt (Text)

Both the cover of this book, with its representation of the sea and the subterranean world beneath, and the title, The Lost Child, speak of the themes of this elegant debut novel by Suzanne McCourt. There is more than one “Lost Child” in the novel, but it is through the adolescent Sylvie that the story unfolds. McCourt has skilfully managed to present the life of a broken family in a small fishing village where the social mores of the fifties meant divorc
Robbie Hutchins
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Book clubs
This is the sort of book that stays with you. The wild and untamed, yet strikingly beautiful backdrop of Burley Point is the perfect backdrop for this coming of age novel. Sylvie is a character who really draws you into her world. As an innocent five year old at the commencement of the story she is surrounded by complex and imperfect adults, who are caught up in their own affairs. While Sylvie is sharp as a tack, she is provided with very little time or guidance by others and has to figure out h ...more
Marie-elise Allen
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Suzanne McCourt’s first novel ‘The Lost Child’ is a rich, raw and highly emotive debut into the literary world.

A resilient Sylvie is as hilarious, as much as she is insecure, ridden with guilt and her struggle to make sense of the unstable family life she finds herself trying to make sense of.

Set in the coastal fishing village of Burley Point in Southern Australia, young Sylvie takes the reader through multi layered facets of her understanding of things she witnesses, events that occur and conv
Nov 25, 2015 rated it liked it

What is it with novelists nowadays? Do they think the only drama worth exploring is the bleak or over-sensationalized experiences bordering on melodrama? Have you noticed this is also true of movies and TV shows? So much darkness!

I seem to be picking a run of okay books but nothing to yell about from the roof tops.

'The Lost Child' is the story of Sylvie's brother, Duncan. It is also a story about lost hope and lost innocence. It was a dark read which depressed me tremendously. I kept reading bec
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Australian literature often has a bleak stillness, an undercurrent of despair, of life watched in slow motion that cannot be steered from the path of the oncoming train. Or trains.
This is another tale infected by such characteristics.

After the Stella shortlist and most of the MF longlist, I've consumed more descriptive melancholic stillness than I can actual digest. Perhaps I'd love this book more if I'd read it before the others.
Karen Viggers
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
A lovely well written book set on the Coorong in South Australia. I enjoyed the voice of the main character Sylvie, especially when she was young. I felt the story didn't make enough of its climaxes and lost direction a little as Sylvie grew, which perhaps reflected Sylvie's teenage mind. An easy read. Not as confronting as it seems it might be in the early stages of the book. Ends in a fairly unresolved way, but that's life I suppose.
Liesl Creaser
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. There were so many facets to the characters, and plenty of insight into how history and experience shaped their later actions, whether good or bad.
The voice of the child narrating the story, Sylvie, was utterly convincing, and cast an innocent eye on the small town environment and adult world around her. Highly recommended.
Deborah Marcinkus
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderfully iconic Australian novel. The writer has encapsulated the Aussie life in a small seaside town during the mid 20th Century. The book's characters and landscape are clearly defined with beautiful accuracy. Sylvie is a sweet child who takes us with her in her search for answers. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms McCourt's novel and would highly recommend it.
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the rare books in which the child narrator feels real. She can think for herself and isn't completely naive. You get angry and upset at the same things she does, and it's hard to detach from her. The characters are as wild, raw and somewhat as beautiful as their setting. It's hard to fit in a genre. Easy read but equally as dark as lovely.
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Suzanne McCourt is the author of THE LOST CHILD, a novel about family, identity and growing up in small town Australia during the 1950's. It will be released by Text Publishing in the UK in November, 2014, and in the US in March, 2015.

Before starting her literary career, Suzanne worked in teaching, marketing and management. She has since published a collection of poems and her prize-winning short
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