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Disquiet

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,666 ratings  ·  415 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 de ...more
Paperback, 122 pages
Published November 25th 2008 by Penguin Books
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3.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,666 ratings  ·  415 reviews


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karen
Nov 30, 2008 rated it liked it
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!!
Nick Cato
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Kirsty
My first taste of Australian author Julia Leigh's work was with the novella Disquiet.  It sounded wonderfully Gothic, and has been lauded by the likes of Toni Morrison, who calls its author a 'sorceress', and goes on to proclaim: 'Her deft prose casts a spell of serene control while the earth quakes underfoot.'  Leigh has been compared to the likes of both Ian McEwan and J.M. Coetzee; indeed, Coetzee himself praises the film-like quality which almost every scene that Leigh creates has.  Leigh wa ...more
Denis
Feb 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Bogydog
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
L.E. Fidler
Nov 07, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Laura
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Elizabeth☮
Jan 06, 2009 rated it liked it
A novella about a prodigal daughter's return home. In conjunction with her return to her mother's palatial sprawl, her brother and his wife seek solace at the mother's house after losing a child.

This is a short book, but it offers a lot to ponder. A book about loss and grieving and coming to find where you belong.
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
the title is quite apt, but not in the eerie/creepy/unsettling way usually meant, for this reader anyhow... frankly, not much happens, but there sure is an odd sense something happened, something is happening somewhere else, or something might happen, at some point... the boy and girl are arguably the best parts of this taut tale... at turns violent, macabre, unnerving, wily, mature, childish, and entirely unknown quantities... the woman has suffered, that is evident, and not just in the obvious ...more
Sarah Ames-Foley
This review can also be found on my blog.
cw domestic abuse; stillbirth

I found this novella in a local thrift shop and picked it up on a whim. I thought the cover was nice and the story sounded interesting -- and told myself that even if I didn’t like it, I’d only be working through 120 or so pages. I’m glad I went for it because this is one of those hidden gems that I probably never would have found otherwise. It’s simply written, but hauntingly beautiful. It’s a little odd in a way I can’t put
...more
Eric
Feb 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
The bones, they will outlast you. And one day they too will - crumble. Everything will be transformed: this is what happens. The earth is thriving. All you can do now is be gentle with yourself. The child's life is - done. The child is no longer suffering. She will remain in your thoughts. I do not believe in any soul, God is not the mystery, but I say - open your heart to those around you. Do not miss this chance. That's all.'

This was a used book store find, the very slim and attractive novella
...more
Doug Bradshaw
Dec 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Roxane
Sep 15, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is full of lush description and finely rendered moments but there is no substance, here. There is nothing to hold onto. Disquiet is a slim novel that is far too slim. Too much goes unsaid. The characters are rather flat and narrow, save for the children who are quite well drawn. By the time we reach the climax, it is all deeply unsatisfying because we haven't been given a reason to care enough about anyone involved. This is one of those books that falls desperately short of its potenti ...more
Michael Livingston
Short, creepy and beautifully written, Disquiet wound up leaving me more puzzled than discomforted. It's a speedy read though, and Leigh is an excellent writer, whose sentences are enough to justify this otherwise odd book.
thebookfox
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, library-book
Unsure if I "enjoyed" this per se but I couldn't get enough of its creepy tone and the strange strange behaviour of certain characters.
Rhonda
Jan 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Dark tale. Read it all, but didn't like it.
Kailey
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good little novella for an afternoon at the park.
Chris Wolak
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jim
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Disquiet reminds me a little of The Comfort of Strangers, my least favorite of the seven or eight Ian McEwan novels that I've read. Julia Leigh seems to be strongly influenced by Ian McEwan, seems to have not found her authentic voice yet. The writing is clinical, lean... Perhaps surgical? Pen turned into scalpel? If so, she has cut out all the fat, i.e., heart, feeling. Her style engendered no emotional response in me to the characters, who came across as specimens rather than persons. I see th ...more
Becky
May 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Jason Pettus
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sarah
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-fiction
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
Alan
Dec 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, read-in-2010
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
Larry H
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For 109 pages, this book packs a big punch. It's one of those stories where you don't know what's going to happen the whole time and you have your suspicions, but it never quite happens the way you think it will. I could totally see this as the root of a movie--some of the scenes practically beg to be filmed. My only criticism is that there is an underlying pall over one of the characters throughout the book, and although you can get a sense of what the issues were, no one in the book ever comes ...more
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What happened to mother of 2 children? 3 26 Nov 15, 2014 12:41PM  

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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
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