Modes of Connection – a review of Sorry by Gail Jones

My review of Gail Jones’ Sorry (Aus, US) appears in the latest Australian Women’s Book Review.

Sorry is Gail Jones’s most important and accessible book to date. Perdita is born late in life to immigrant parents Nicholas and Stella. They have come from England so Nicholas can study anthropology. In Broome they keep a ramshackle house with books stacked like furniture. The mother, Stella, obsessively recites Shakespeare, attempting to inject drama into her existence. Perdita is not often shown affection, and only feels at home in the arms of the Aboriginal tribeswomen whom Nicholas studies nearby.

A saviour comes in the form of Mary, an Aboriginal slavegirl and victim of the stolen generation. She becomes Mary’s ‘sister’ and, along with the deaf and dumb Billy, they become their own tribe.

Jones’s female characters often take the place of the ‘other’, subverting the usual role of the group of characters around the protagonist. In Dreams of Speaking Alice was confronted by the horrors of Hiroshima, after meeting a first-hand witness in Mr Sakamoto. She was the displaced figure, small and insignificant, in London, and later in Japan, swarming with electronic reminders of progress and digital transcendence. In Sixty Lights , Lucy is ahead of her time in Bombay and London; eccentrically fascinated with photography, new technologies capturing time. She is the ‘other’, displaced by her advanced cultural sensibilities.

Read more…

4 thoughts on “Modes of Connection – a review of Sorry by Gail Jones

  1. This is so academic and consistently thoughtful, Ange. You’re really emerging as a great reviewer and true admirer of other people work and intentions, whilst still applying your own constructive feedback. I really hope the authors of these books see your writings some day! – Samwise.

  2. I actually gave Gail Jones a copy of this review at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival on the weekend! I hope she thought it insightful. She is my favourite Australian writer after all, and a great inspiration for my own writing,Thanks 4 your comment Sam :-)Angela

  3. This is a wonderful, thoughtful review.I’ve just finished reading Sorry and I have to say I didn’t like it very much. Jones is a beautiful writer, but, in my opinion, this novel lacked narrative drive. I honestly struggled to finish it, and I don’t often struggle to finish books.I much preferred Sixty Lights, which was definitely one of my favourite reads of 2006.

  4. Her best book of all in my opinion is ‘Dreams of Speaking’ but that is perhaps due to a subjective fascination shared with Jones by myself on modernity, technology and culture.Thanks again for reading,LM

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