I’ve just finished reading Standing Water by Terri Armstrong, which I greatly enjoyed and will write more about it in another post. But for now here are the opening lines:
On the way to the funeral Hester started to cry. Neal, driving the ute, glanced at her. He reached over and squeezed her hand, too tightly. The tears wouldn’t stop. She pulled in jagged breaths and held a tissue to her face. Without warning, Neal swerved the ute into a gravel siding, throwing her against the door. He kept the engine idling.
‘For Christ’s sake, Hester. We’ll be there in five minutes.’
‘I know. Sorry.’ She had to pull herself together. She turned her head to look at the roadside scrub, focused on the pale, thin limbs of a top-heavy mallee tree.
‘Wasn’t even your bloody mother,’ Neal muttered.
These lines caught my imagination – I assumed that Neal and Hester were an apparently unemotional son and a very upset daughter-in-law. They drew me into the story and also very definitely set the scene for me, in Western Australia – what I wondered is a ‘mallee tree’. (I thought maybe a eucalyptus, and was pleased to discover that it is.)
Standing Water is Terri Armstrong’s first novel and is the winner of the 2010 Yeovil Literary Prize (pre-publication). It is to be published by Pewter Rose Press on 28 February. (My copy was sent to me by the publishers.)
Book Beginnings is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages every Friday.