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The Light on the Water

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  572 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Recently divorced and trying to make sense of her new life, Anne takes her daughter Aida on an overnight bushwalk in the moody wilderness of Wilsons Promontory. In a split second, Aida disappears and a frantic Anne scrambles for help. Some of the emergency trackers who search for Aida already doubt Anne's story.

Nearly two years later and still tormented by remorse and grie
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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 ·  572 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ozzie-gems
Once Anne Baxter had it all. Married to a successful lawyer and with two beautiful daughters life is seemingly zen. Her youngest, Aida is a handful thanks to being diagnosed with Autism, but despite the difficulties Anne loves her unconditionally. Three year later though her world has gone full circle after first divorcing Robert and then after he re-marries, suffers the worst pain ever when after going on an overnight bushwalk, Aida disappears without a trace.

Since Aida has gone missing, Anne h
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2016
A quiet, understated, thoughtful novel.

I was drawn to the book by the cover; I kept reading because of the beautiful, empathic writing.
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
An intense and evocative read..sometimes it is almost too painful.

My View:
Evocative, intense, emotional and at times painful to read. This novel pierces the heart; brilliant.

At first I could hardly bear to continue reading, the pain that Anne feels and the pressure she faces is almost too much to bear. These are powerful pages, tension is high, my empathy freely given. Anne’s story is just so so sad. We can feel her love for her children and the pressure that mothers face when in the public eye,
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

The Light on the Water by Olga Lorenzo is a thoughtful novel exploring a myriad of the themes, most notably motherhood, grief, guilt and love.

Two long years after her young autistic daughter disappeared during an overnight hike, Anne Baxter is on the precipice of being charged with Aida's murder. Shunned by her neighbours and vilified by the media, Anne waits...and hopes.

This is a story that focuses on character rather than action. Anne is a hugely sympathetic character, trapped in a hellish kin
Emilie Morscheck
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be a compelling, worthwhile read. The writing beautifully captures Anne's sense of loss and the limbo she finds herself in while waiting for developments in her case.

With the story told entirely from Anne's perspective, it was essential that she was a believable character, and I thought she was particularly well-drawn. As the book progresses, more layers of her past history are revealed, providing a clearer basis for her decisions and motivations. The other characters are a
I won this book through a FirstReads giveaway, so thanks to Goodreads and Allen & Unwin.

I thought the premise of this book sounded interesting, and it was, but it wasn’t compelling. It was put-down-able - as evidenced by the fact that it took me about 9 days to read it. It’s a shame - I felt like I should really have been on the edge of my seat wondering whether the mother had killed her daughter, whether it was an accident or deliberate, or whether the daughter would actually be found 2 years a
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book probes deeply into relationships and the undercurrents that touch all of us; spouses, friends, family and acquaintances. How we perceive and judge people and the implications and effects of our behaviour may be unseen but are rarely without consequence to someone. Lorenzo also tackles the role of the media in passing judgement but also on our dependence of it. I found this book provoking, thoughtful and compassionate. It walks a careful line that supports the integrity of the plot. I r ...more
I enjoyed the book but was also slightly disappointed with it in some respects. I feel the characters weren't explored as deeply as they might have been and the expected emotions accompanying such a storyline were only given a superficial nod rather than the intensity they deserved. It was good but it could have been so much better. ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars. I didn't mind this book, but just found it a bit slow and plodding in parts. Stories about family relationships are not really my interest, but I enjoyed the scenes with the mermaids and Nali the asylum seeker. Robert and Hannah were not particularly likeable, especially Hannah - the supposedly adult daughter - who came across as whiny and entitled. ...more
Joan Kerr
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
'The Light On The Water' deals with the terrible experience of a mother who loses her child – and is then accused of having murdered her. Anne Baxter takes her autistic 6-year-old Aida on an ill-advised hike into the wild and beautiful Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria, and loses her forever when Aida runs ahead of her. A mother’s care for her child is boundless, society tells us, and there’s no defence for human lapses and misjudgments. There are worse mothers than Anne in the book – her own abus ...more
Helen King
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, australian
I received a copy of this book from Allen & Unwin (it's worth enter their online competitions for new releases because you might receive one as wonderful as this!)

I am still in awe of this novel, and, although it's too early to declare it my favourite book of 2016, it will certainly be one of them. As I said to friends, the author has managed to balance the most beautiful, descriptive writing (as needed - not laid on with a trowel), but at the same time, bringing to life so much of Melbourne an
Danielle Netherclift
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 2 days, a feat that I haven't achieved since before I had my children, but the story and the characters were incredibly compelling to me.
The character of Anne Baxter, who endures the unimaginable twin griefs of a missing child and of being partially responsible for the disappearance of her through an innocent if out of character lapse in judgement, comes alive on the page in all of her glorious imperfection and humanity. The character of Aida, her autistic daughter, almost s
Saturday's Child
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
The cover grabbed my attention and then the blurb hooked me in. For a work of fiction I found I had to stop and remind myself that I was not reading a true account.
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I had heard bad reviews on this book but as our book club was reading it i decided to give it a go and get stuck into so it was over and done with as fast as possible haha :)

But .. to my surprise, i actually enjoyed it. I found it easy to read and did give me a very good sence of what Anne was going through and how I would have felt being her. There were parts that i enjoyed more than others , such as her odd friendship with the mermaids and Nali, and when they arrived with the rabbit for her
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A story about a family’s worst nightmare, when newly divorced mum, Anne Baxter takes her 6yr old autistic daughter, Aida on a bush walk in Melbourne and doesn’t return with her.
Somehow, Aida gets lost on the walk.
Following the initial search for Aida by police and trackers with no sign of the missing girl, Anne is subsequently charged with her daughters murder.
Even worse for Anne, witnesses have come forward with information that strengthens the case against her.
While Anne is on bail awaiting he
Jan 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
This was seriously ho hum....boring. A story that dragged, choc full of characters I disliked save for the angelfish that died in the tank.
My book group will be reading this later in the year but I will certainly not be going back for seconds.
I’d give this one a wide berth.
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Enter the mind of a woman whose young daughter, Aida, vanished while they were hiking at Wilson's Promontory in Victoria. We meet Anne a year of grief later when Aida's disappearance has now turned to society blaming the mother and accusing her of murder. Olga Lorenzo's skill takes us into Anne's mental and emotional torture as she tries to evade the media and to shop at odd hours to avoid the grim glares of former friends, neighbours and of total strangers. Readers remember how Australians were ...more
Theresa Smith
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aww2016
This book was such a good read, from start to finish. I've found myself dwelling on the subject matter quite incessantly throughout. Olga's style of writing is very engaging and quite honest in its portrayal of the inner workings of each character. Despite only being told from Anna's perspective, Olga skillfully allows the reader to see exactly who each of the other characters are, not only with regard to their relationship with Anna, but who they are as a separate person. Olga's portrayal of so ...more
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I first saw the cover of this book I was intrigued; why was this girl staring at the fish like that? What story could be contained by that cover? Then I read the synopsis, and I liked the idea even more. Anne and her daughter Aida are out bushwalking one day, something Anne has always enjoyed. Two people enter the bush, but only one comes out. Anne is almost instantly under suspicion; Aida was difficult, she had autism, Anne was suffering from a recent marriage breakdown.

Slowly but surely
N Heaney
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have
This stunning novel looks at family, love, grief and how we live with the consequences of our actions. Lorenzo writes beautifully and without fear; her protagonist Anne Baxter's flaws are on display for all to see, yet she is so richly conveyed, with her awful upbringing, her devotion to Aida and her rumination over her failed marriage and her regretful and unintended neglect of Hannah, we form a profound understanding of, and can't help but love her.

But what happens without this deep insight?
Elise McCune
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Anne Baxter is married to a successful lawyer and has two daughters. Her youngest daughter Aida has been diagnosed with autism and is a difficult child. Within three years Anne and Robert divorce, Robert re-marries and on a bush walk with Anne, Aida disappears.
Anne knows the chances of her daughter being found alive are low. The suspicion in the community is that she has killed Aida and they turn against her. Except of her family, her former work-mate Linda and Robert’s new wife Sandra there is
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to get a copy of "The Light on the Water" through Goodreads Giveaways. Certainly a page turner, Olga Lorenzo's tale of Anne Baxter fighting for her innocence after losing her Autistic daughter on a bushwalk evoked strong emotions in me. I felt for Anne, being treated as a murderer by strangers who judged her, having to grieve the loss of her daughter without knowing for sure what happened while defending herself to those who knew nothing about her or her daughter. I definitely ...more
An interesting story of Anne Baxter who lost her autistic child during a bush walk. 2 years later and the police have decided to press charges of murder.
The book focuses on Anne and what she has lost - her daughter, a husband, friends - and gained notoriety, suffering the indignity from the outraged public, is trolled and dehumanised by her experiences in prison. The story also touches on refugees and other outcasts from society's fringes.
I certainly felt the frustrations of Anne, how easily it
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Such a topical book, especially at this sad time in Melbourne. An autistic child goes missing while in the care of her mother. Has she been abducted, has she died in the bush or is the mother to blame? The media has made its view obvious, hounding the mother, and people in general have judged harshly. The author alludes to the mother's feeling of guilt with the secret being revealed near the end of the book. The characterisation was generally good, especially of the mother Anne but I didn't unde ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was an easy read while at the same time being emotive, powerful, painful and at times hopeful. It is an interesting exploration of grief, blame, marriage, motherhood and the judgements made by society.
It's downfall, I felt, was the ending. It seemed that in the hurry to tie up loose ends and ensure the story finished with a somewhat happy ending that the exploration of characters and their stories was left incomplete. Nevertheless, still a book I would
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
An absorbing book that I found increasingly drew me in as the tension and layers of complexity built around the central character, a mother whose autistic child disappeared while in her care. I loved the writing and also thought the short chapters added to the unfolding story.
The emotions and pressure felt by the mother felt very real to me, and I was also reminded of Lindy Chamberlain as I read.
Thanks to The Reading Room and Allen & Unwin for my copy.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a thought-provoking, soul-searching story that absolutely grabs you from the start. The blurb says "an unforgettable, aching, magical read" and that describes it perfectly. Seen through the accused one's eyes, through her dreadful grief and feelings of guilt, we also rage at the injustice, of how people are so willing to cast blame. We can also see how hard it is to be a parent and of how we judge each other in our failings. A great read. ...more
Jessica Lourigan
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
2 and a half stars... I struggle with a book that has no likeable characters! Anne, her husband, her teen daughter, her sister, her mother!! What horrible people...only Sandra appeared somewhat likeable towards the end... I don’t understand why we needed the mermaids, the refugee and the rabbit?? Picked this book randomly off shelves at library...happy to return it!
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A delightful read, close up and personal. Current in its subject matter - a master stroke being the passive aggressive sister character but a the sensitive relationship stuff went nowhere. What I missed was a sense of the agony the protagonist would have felt at losing a child .
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Olga Lorenzo's The Light on the Water 1 9 Apr 21, 2016 10:16PM  

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Olga Lorenzo is the author of The Rooms in My Mother's House , which was published in 1996 and shortlisted for various literary awards, including the IMPAC Prize. Olga has won the Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne for her writing, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship. She has taught writing for 1 ...more

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