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The World Without Us

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  711 ratings  ·  119 reviews
It has been six months since Tess MÃller stopped speaking. Her silence is baffling to her parents, her teachers and her younger sister, Meg. But the more urgent mystery for both girls is where their mother, Evangeline, goes each day, pushing an empty pram. When their father Stefan discovers a car wreck and human remains on their farm, old secrets emerge to threaten the fra ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published July 29th 2015)
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3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  711 ratings  ·  119 reviews


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Suzanne
This was an audio read. Audio reads do not sit too well with me, unless the content really appeals. I was not invested in this story as I'd been if holding the book in my hands.

Escaping a commune, mixed up relationships, addiction, trauma; and so much grief for one family. Perhaps I should not even be reviewing this as I was so distracted, but it did not hold my interest.

I enjoyed the prose and thought the author wrote very well, I was just not captivated unfortunately.
☼♄Jülie 
This review is of the audio version, beautifully read by Jennifer Vuletic

'If all the Bees in the world were to suddenly die, man would have only four years to live.'
-A sobering thought.

This beautifully delivered, thought provoking story is a deep observation of the cycles of life, of change, of cause and effect.
From subtle shifts in the atmosphere and its effects on the bees or the weather, to the sudden and shocking announcement of a death...and the ripple effects of these shifts, however gr
...more
Jane
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I wasn’t at all sure that this would be my kind of book, but there was something about it that called to me; and when I picked it up and read the opening pages I was drawn in, by lovely writing and by subtle promises of exploring real lives lived with empathy and insight.

It took a little time, and careful reading, to untangle characters and relationships and circumstances, because everyone and everything was introduced with little by way of explanation. I slowly learned what I needed to know, an
...more
Margaret Jeffery
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
I chose this book because it's on the Miles Franklin 2016 long list and if this is meant to be one of the best works of Australian fiction this year then I despair. I read several online reviews and was left wondering if the reviewers had read the same book or had I come into possession of the literary equivalent of a Bali knock-off. Large holes in the plot and unnecessary diversions - is Jim a cross-dresser and why mention his bee allergy? Bees, fracking, random characters wandering in and out, ...more
Sue Gerhardt Griffiths
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
What a fun year it has been participating in the ‘Yearly Reading Plan’ challenge with my dear friend Amanda, who was also the one who suggested this great challenge. Thanks so much, Amanda, it was a real pleasure doing this with you.
And what a lovely way to end the reading challenge year with a book of our own choosing, I chose a book that I started last year, November, The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau, and as I had never read a literary fiction aka ‘serious fiction’ before I abandoned th
...more
Renelle
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish we could do half stars as for me this was a 2.5... although the story (and the stories within the story) were interesting, I had to fight my way through it, and for me, personally, that isn't how I want to read. If you like literary fiction, you will probably enjoy this book, although I don't quite understand the appeal of the genre so I probably don't know what you would like. If you are new to it, give it a shot. Either way, I think we should all judge this book by the cover (beautiful, ...more
Sara
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The World Without Us", as in the world once we are gone or as in the world that isn't within us? Either interpretation would work for this soul-searching novel about loss and connection. Each of the main characters is dealing with a major loss. Tess has lost her beloved sister and her will to talk; Jim has lost his mother and the idea of a child and family that he feels has been taken from him by his girlfriend; Stefan has lost his daughter but also his connection with his wife (and the foundat ...more
Lesley Moseley
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I knew from the first page that this was going to be a 5 star book for me.. I love the underwritten style; the pace and the cadence.. Having lived for nearly 20 years in a 'Village in the Rainforest' that had been famous for it's hippie markets and ex-communes, I knew these people and the interwoven lives.

So many themes interwoven; grief of one family being the most explored.. Very real.
Brittany Hayes
Aug 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
I felt like I probably missed something in this book...I sadly felt a bit 'Meh'...I didnt think the lack of quotation marks would bother me...but it really did...I often felt confused, and unsure what was external dialogue or internal dialogue.
Betty
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I bought this book because I liked the cover and I had heard the author being interviewed on the radio. The book is written with beautiful prose, but I found the characters to be ultimately unlike-able and the plot- such that it is- to be rather nebulous. I guess when the blurb on the back of the novel describes it as "elegiac" this is what happens. It was quite a pleasant read- but I feel like in a couple of weeks I will have totally forgotten any aspect of the text.
Lisa
Longlisted for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award, The World Without Us begins slowly with a network of scenes that eventually form a structure in a way that a beehive does. It takes a little while to connect the characters and their relationships, so the reader needs a bit of patience in order for the story to cohere…

Just as a hive depends on its Queen and will swarm wherever she leads it, so the central character of this novel is Evangeline, whose family is adrift ever since she lost her way when h
...more
Angela Long (Carter)
The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau is a multi faceted work about loss and grief; intimacy and communication; but above all—survival.
‘They’ve already survived the indescribable: named the stars to distract a sister, stood very still as her coffin hovered. They’d lost Pip and a fellow feeling. They’d lost the mother who’d once been fearless.’

After the death of their youngest daughter Pip, each member of the Müller family is trying to manage their loss. Meg, now the youngest, surrounds hersel
...more
Kate
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it
My full review (in the context of the Stella Prize is here: https://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wo...

Can I start out by saying that I hope I never have to read two books about communes in the space of a few weeks again? Probably not, but I did. It’s just not my scene, man…

And while this hippy commune story compares favourably to the last one I read, I need to stress that two coming-of-age-stories-set-in-communes-with-commune-destroying-fires-and-hippy-mothers-who-can’t-read-plus-a-side-of-paterni
...more
Francene Carroll
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
There's no denying that Mireille Juchau is a talented writer, and on a technical level the sentences in this book are lovely. I was looking forward to reading a book set in a small coastal community so similar to the ones on the NSW north coast, but unfortunately the story line let the book down for me and I had to force myself to finish it.

I lost interest about halfway through because I didn't connect with any of the characters. Although we have access to their intimate thoughts I found them t
...more
Helen King
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian, fiction
I enjoyed this, although I was struggling to work out how the threads were going to work together, and I'm not really sure that it was a fully satisfying ending. Still, a great sense of the location, the cultural environment, and some of the difficult struggles the different characters encounters. Some lovely scenes and descriptions too, about the struggles to articulate feelings, or to hide from the past:

'She dimly recollects the spell for bearing pain - how the urge to escape amplifies the hu
...more
Calzean
This is a book to read slowly as there is a lot going on.
Tess was born in a commune which had burnt down injuring her mother. They escaped and 13 years later the family is now grieving with the death of the youngster sister. There is also the loss of bees, the loss of traditional family, ecological dangers from fracking, mine run off and genetically modified plants. There is also Tess's father lost at her birth but possibly found when a skeleton is discovered.
The books has plenty of themes with
...more
Dasha M
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very beautiful book. Not what I'd sought out when I first picked it up, but I could not stop myself night after night. Glorious, poetic prose.
Robyn Mundy
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What made Pip, their youngest girl, so gravely ill? Why have Stefan's bees vanished from their hives? Evangeline, his wife, where does she disappear to each day? Tess, their eldest, has not uttered a word in 6 months. Behind the Müller family's small farm stand mountains denuded of forest, a line of gas rigs, toxic run-off. This novel of loss, silence and secrets, a failed commune burned to the ground, is highly deserving of the 2016 Victorian Premier's Award.
PipReads
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not bad, not great. Not recommended. Unless you like bee stories about hippy communes and grief. Not quite sure what the point was because it didn't really settle on anything or resolve anything nicely.
Lisa
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The World Without Us is a novel about people who are all desperately sad and wanting in some way, from the Muller family who have recently lost their youngest daughter to cancer while the eldest has stopped speaking, to Tom Tucker struggling with depression and a fatalistic view of the world, and to Jim Parker, a newly arrived school teacher from the city who is escaping his own troubles. When Stefan Muller finds a car wreck and human remains on his property, things are brought to a head.

I foun
...more
Kimbofo
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reviews
Mireille Juchau’s The World Without Us is a prize-winning novel from Australia, which has just been published in the UK and has recently been long listed for the 2016 Stella Prize.

It’s a multi-layered story set in a rural community in northern New South Wales, where farms and forests exist side by side, the kind of place where people go to escape the Big Smoke and start their lives afresh. It could be described an environmental novel, or perhaps even a cli-fi one, because the effect of industry
...more
Amanda
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it
The Muller family are a family in mourning. In mourning for the daughter, the sister they lost two years ago. Stefan tends to his disappearing bees, Evangeline to the river and Tess to the world of silence. When the remains of a truck and the bones of a skeleton are discovered on their farm the past returns, secrets uncovered and the truth finally revealed.
This was a beautifully written and wholly mesmerising novel. The characters depicted with such care and attention evoking empathy and emotion
...more
Michael Livingston
3.5

I really liked elements of this book - the language is lovely, the setting well realised and the two central daughters well drawn. I struggled more with the plot - there were a few too many moving parts for me, and the connections between many of them were purposely left unresolved. The adult characters didn't connect strongly with me, and the post-commune setting was overshadowed in my memory by the wonderful (and recently read) Arcadia. Still, Juchau is clearly a talented writer - I'll defi
...more
Lauren Ferguson
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was originally a cover buy for me - it is a beautiful looking book. The intertwining stories are expertly written each with their own highs and lows, intrigue and issues that draw you in. The imagery is elaborate and effective painting the colours of the people and the landscape. Lastly Juchau's relunctance to adhere to traditional speech requirements create the atmosphere of silence surrounding the Müller family and also emphasising how we each feel in our depleted world.
A wonderful
...more
Sharon
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can see why this novel was shortlisted for the Stella Prize in 2016 - shifting between the perspectives of the Muller family (both parents and two daughters), as well as town local Tom Tucker and 'blow in' Jim, Juchau masterfully unravels the stories of these interconnected lives and their tragedies in rural New South Wales. Written with precision and elegance, the novel also has an environmental message, noting the fragility of the world around us. Dealing with grief, passion, fear and guilt, ...more
Michelle
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
I initially had trouble getting into this book but soon enough fell in love with it. I loved the lyrical prose that was integrated and the varied perspectives that were vital in gaining an understanding of the mysteries presented in this book. Rural Australia comes alive in these pages, drawing you into the naturalistic theme of bees and their hives which illustrates the values of family, community and the need to maintain them in the struggles of identity and moving on from the past.

NOTE: This
...more
Jill
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a beautifully written and complex novel about family loss and the threat posed to the natural world by human exploitation. It reminded me of Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver in its description of a rural community struggling to survive the exploitation of their local environment. I sometimes found that narrative confusing probably due to the shifts in points of view and this distracted from my enjoyment of a novel which has won prizes.
Tundra
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Grief in many guises traverses the lives of the characters in this book. It is beautifully written with evocative language. It was definitely not an easy read and often I was compelled to reread sentences knowing that there was always more to be found. I felt like a small ripple turned into an insurmountable tidal wave of events and I could feel the storm approaching. This book is compassionate and probing about grief and loss and the inevitable implications for those we love and connect with.
Amber Myott
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I think this book tried in a way to replicate ' The Poisonwood Bible ' by Babara Kingsolver, even though the subject seems very different. I'm confused as to why the author chose not to always use quotation marks during dialogue. It just made it difficult to follow . There weren't any great revelations in this novel .
Phil L
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easily my book of the year. This is a must-read for anyone that enjoys great writing, evocative settings and rich characters. I knew about the author from her last book and this one I couldn't put down. There are so many incredible insights and observations about love, and loss, and memory. Would recommend to others if you love great writing.
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MIREILLE JUCHAU is a Sydney-based writer of novels, short fiction, essays, scripts and reviews.

Her third novel, The World Without Us will be published internationally by Bloomsbury in Australia in August 2015, the UK and US in 2016. Her second novel, Burning In (Giramondo Publishing, 2007), was published in France – Le révélateur (Mercure de France, 2012) and Croatia – Potamanjivanje (Hrvatsko fil
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