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Indelible Ink

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  833 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Marie King is a 59-year-old divorcée from Sydney's affluent north shore. Having devoted her rather conventional life to looking after her husband and three children - who have now all departed the family home - she is experiencing something of an identity crisis, especially as she must now sell the family home and thus lose her beloved garden.

On a folly she gets a tattoo.
Paperback, 452 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Scribe Publications Pty Ltd. (first published May 31st 2010)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  833 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Bree T
Apr 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Marie King is a 59 year old divorced woman living in a good sized home on a good sized block in Mosman. Marie acquired the house outright in the settlement when her husband left her but she’s having trouble maintaining it. She fell pregnant in University, promptly dropped out and became stay at home mother for most of her life, until her children were grown and left the family home. She has no income now and is beginning to drown in debt. Living on a credit card with a fifty thousand dollar limi ...more
Jun 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c21st, australia, 10review
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘For the first time in years, the children were all at Sirius Cove for their mother’s birthday.’

Set in Sydney, shifting between Mosman and Surry Hills, this is the story of a segment of Marie King’s life. Marie, aged 59 and divorced, is unsatisfied with aspects of her life. Sure, she lives in a beautiful home in Mosman, and appears to have led a relatively privileged life. But somewhere along the way, Marie seems to have lost her sense of self. Increasingly, she is aware that she can no longer s
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Well written, interesting, but also serving up a mix of rather unlikeable characters, this book did have me hooked pretty quickly. I found myself liking Marie but not her children, not even Leon. They were all so materialistic and self-centered.
Marie's ex and her friends were also just a bunch of rich creeps but this does change towards the end.
The evocative passages about the garden and tattooing were the highlights for me. Both come across as catharsis for big gaps in Marie that her life certa
Sep 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I discovered this book only because I saw someone had chosen it for their June Literary Challenge and it sounded interesting. It was, I liked it, and I'm glad I joined the challenge to find a new (to me) author.


It all rang true to me - the setting, the people, the language, and the relationships - old, new, fractured, mending. McGregor's an easy writer to read. She doesn't rely on two-dollar words to impress, as someone once referred to those annoying one
Christine Bongers
Jun 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: aussie-adult
I took a long time to get into this book. It's very Sydney, none of the characters are particularly likeable, and it's hard to feel sympathy for someone living in a six million dollar property on the water at Mossman who drunkenly runs up $50,000 on credit cards instead of getting a job. It's testament to McGregor's skills as a writer that I kept reading and ended up glad that I did. I don't really understand the obsession with tattoos, but I did understand why Marie, the book's 59 year old divo ...more
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
It would be dishonest of me to review this book, considering I only made it one third through. If you liked "the slap" you might like this, but that's only a might. This book had a similar array of unsympathetic unlikeable characters, with not enough body in the story to get or keep me interested. The main character is a pathetic indecisive drunk - a late 50's separated mother of an assortment of children, who suddenly decides to start tattooing herself. She lives in beautiful affluent Mossman, ...more
Karen Butler
Mar 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
Could not bear the characters. I had more sympathy for the cat, Mopoke, than any of the human beings in this story. Pretentious, self indulgent rubbish. Could not wade my way through to the end.
Malcolm Frawley
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
So many times I have picked up a book that has been awarded a major literary prize (names withheld at authors' requests) & been disappointed. Or worse. Not this time. Ms McGregor's novel explores marriage, family, sibling rivalry, illicit affairs, class, money, privilege, property, home, & terminal illness. Oh, & the marking of one's skin. But it is not an easy book. Not because it is difficult to read; the author's skills are evident on every page & the writing is always accessible. But it expl ...more
Gail Hunter
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am an absolute fan of this book. I've recommended it to lots of people and have had varied reactions. It's very Sydney-centric, most of the characters are not particularly sympathetic and the conclusion is inevitable but I was absolutely hooked. I learnt about the art and industry of tattooing and finally understood what makes people embrace body art. I loved McGregor's rich writing, I felt like I knew a lot of the characters and I felt their dilemmas deeply. I felt this was a compassionate bo ...more
Kylie H
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very gritty, warts and all look at family life. Touching on cancer, tattoos, drugs, homosexuality, infidelity..I could go on. There are parts of the book that are so frank they are almost voyeuristic and I felt like I was intruding on a personal thing. Other times the descriptions were a a bit too graphic and somewhat gratuitous, almost coming as a slap.
Overall though a good story and a tragedy which unfolds and gathers steam as it goes.
Lesley Moseley
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book from page one. Such clever sparse, pacey, writing. The characters were all so real, as was the sense of place. Because I felt like I knew them all, it felt like they were some neighbours. Such a worthy tome for the award of "The Age Book of The Year". ...more
Pauline McLay
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the second time I have read this book and I enjoyed it even more. At times raw and confronting, it would kick me in the gut, at others it wrapped me in a warm blanket. I laughed and I cried.
Mark Stewart
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book falls into my least favourite genre of "unpleasant people being unpleasant." Normally if I want to watch people I couldn't care less about make a complete hash of their lives and then moan about the thoroughly deserved consequences I'll go to work, but if you like to spend your spare time with emotional car wrecks with the sympathetic qualities of a broken bottle, then maybe this book is for you.

Well, perhaps that's a touch harsh. Some years ago after being scarred the "award winning"
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an unusual novel about a woman, Marie King, who at nearly 60, divorced and in danger of becoming an alcoholic, makes an impulsive visit to a tattoo parlour in Sydney's Kings Cross. Marie is asset rich (with a harbour-side property in Mosman) but income poor. The thing she loves most is her garden but she is psychologically adrift. Her decision to have at first one and then other tattoos introduces her to a completely different world. The ‘indelible ink’ of the tattoos begins to free her ...more
Lisa Vaccaro
Jun 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Change is certainly a theme in the narration of this tale - love, loss, illness, physical transformations... and similarly my feelings towards it have changed, as it unfolds it layers.
On many levels I can't relate to the characters - while the places are familiar, the people are not anything like the people I choose to surround myself with. But underlying the distain for most of the characters, is the revelation that maybe they are not so unlike who I think I am - they hurt, suffer, feel pain f
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oddly, I enjoyed this book. It is populated with unpleasant, materialist and hedonistic characters, whose lives unravel, collide and are occasionally redeemed - a very modern narrative which reminds me more than anything of a medieval morality play or works in the tradition of The Rake's Progress. There are moments of enlightenment, kindness and honesty - the closest the narrative gets to goodness or redemption.

Sydney, like the characters, is beautiful, brash, wasted, divided, spoiled. It tugs
Janine Prince
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the layers of this novel.
The imagery, the locality, the issues and people all worked well to create a snapshot of contemporary Sydney. Sometimes reading a novel is an escape, but sometimes it is more like an unexpected insight into a part of yourself - and that's what I got from this novel - a way of reflecting on my 10 years living in Sydney and grappling with the class, property, harbour, wealth, beauty and meanness of the place.

I would recommend this book widely, but expect that yo
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This book has beautiful setting of Sydney : created with warmth and reality. I liked the main character and her strength and determination after her husband leaves her.this is written with a very strong understanding of families , class structure in Sydney and the power of a determined woman. I understand Marie's thoughts and the connection with the artistic concept of the tattoos gives her strength. Her children are so well crafted - at times thoughtless at times selfish. Am now interested in r ...more
Judith Yeabsley
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Quirky, shocking in places and very down to earth. It follows a very rich Grandmother who after her divorce decides to get a tattoo when drunk. Really enjoyed the characters, the surprises and the way it was written. Will read more of hers.
Aug 25, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
So much more complex and raw and mean than I'd expected. Very much recommended for women over 40, and probably anyone else. This review from Lisa Hill is more eloquent than I could hope to be https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ...more
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. Compelling, well-written, honest appraisal of humanity in all its contemptible glory. Well worth reading.
May 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Frustrating. Good premise, but full of annoying characters and a plot that doesn't really go anywhere until the last third, when it heads into a rather regrettable direction. ...more
Millicent S
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
The end of this book left me feeling empty, and hollow...which I think was part of the book's brilliance. Wonderfully written, the characters themselves were just plain unlikable. Their priority in life - money and status - lead to a rather emotionless and relationally barren existence, where they were all, some overtly, others under the surface, out for themselves. The brilliance of this book is that none of the characters grow or change at all. They had so many opportunities to make a fresh st ...more
Margaret Galbraith
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A strange book for me but I did finally finish it. I almost gave up on it but I was on sick leave so maybe it was just how I felt at that point. It is well written it was just a hard book for me to read and I really felt sorry for Marie. She’s recently divorced after giving up her life and prospective career after becoming pregnant at University. She’s left in a big house in Mosman 3 children’s now left home and she has no income now. Her children have their own problems too and are busy. She’s ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: beaches-bookclub
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helena Elias
Jul 31, 2021 rated it did not like it
Possibly the worst book I've tried to force myself to read. I couldn't even finish it. I tried, I really, really did, I think I made it halfway through before vaguely skimming to see how it ended. I was recommended this as a friend's all time favourite book, but think possibly I'm the wrong target audience (30, tattoos, often read fantasy)?

I found the obsession and description of the tattoos, parlour, industry and attitude in general tacky, bizarre and at some times incorrect. It made me wonder
Susan Austin
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was very tedious at times, but I found it was okay to read in small doses (although it then took a long time). Maybe if you were a divorced millionaire living in Sydney you might relate to it more. The problem is there wasn't much of a plot. It was just about some pretty unlikable characters and we kind of followed them around a bit through a section of their lives. The whole focus on selling the rich Sydney harbourside mansion and all the indecision and grief around this became tireso ...more
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Fiona McGregor is a Sydney author and performance artist. She writes novels, essays, short stories and critiques, and is a regular reviewer of performance for RealTime. Since 1993, she has published 5 books.

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