All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Liar Bird – Lisa Walker

on January 26, 2012

Liar Bird
Lisa Walker
Harper Collins AU
2012, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Cassandra was the hottest thing in PR in Sydney. It had bought her a beautiful apartment in Manly overlooking the water, a Ferrari and a reputation as being the best. She had a handsome if slightly boring male hairdresser boyfriend and the hottest wardrobe and appointment book in town. Everyone wanted to book her to manage their events.

And then it all came crashing down. A scandal involving a potoroo means that Cassandra’s name and reputation are mud. Her boss is forced to let her go to distance himself from the scandal and she’s humiliatingly advised to stay away from any public events. Cassandra knows that she just needs to lay low for a while, maybe 6-12 months and then she’ll be back. There’ll be another scandal, people have short memories and she can come back and resume her glittering career.

She interviews for a job as a PR for the tiny town of Beechville in far northern NSW close to the border. Barely more than a dot on the map, Cassandra shudders at the thought of living there but she knows that they probably don’t read the newspaper that brought her down so therefore they don’t know of her disgrace. Surely enough they can’t wait to offer her the job and Cassandra trades her apartment for a tiny cabin in the rainforest with a frog in the toilet and cockroaches that run across the floor.

Cassandra has always been able to get what she wants, especially with men. There’s no one she can’t bring around to her way of thinking with a smile, a flick of her hair and a twitch of her hips. So when the local ranger Mac shows no signs of falling for her charms, Cassandra is both piqued and intrigued. The more he makes out he actively dislikes her, the more determined she is to make him like her. She senses he’s attracted to her but he’s steadfast in his refusal to warm to her, making life difficult for her in the small town and waging what Cassandra sees as a small one-man campaign to get her to leave.

But Cassandra’s from Sydney and she’s made of sterner stuff than that! There might be different challenges here in this small town but she’s not the type to let anyone get the better of her. Until she starts to wonder just what is going on in this town and what people, especially the taciturn Mac, might be hiding from her.

Liar Bird is the first novel from Australian author Lisa Walker and I have to say, I quite enjoyed it. We’re introduced to the not-very-likable Cassandra in her preferred environment, which is being a PR genius in the city of Sin, Sydney, admiring her lovely northern beaches apartment and her pretty-but-not-very-substantial boyfriend. Cassandra isn’t at all a sympathetic character at first and it’s almost kind of satisfying to see her brought down for lying, the scandal forcing her to reassess her priorities. She needs to lay low for a while, so she picks a tiny dot town on the map of far northern NSW to hide out in until the terrible scandal dies down. She dislikes everything about it at first – it consists of a pub, information office, supermarket and little else and her home is a supplied cabin that comes with an assortment of wildlife flatmates, none of which Cassandra has much love for.

Despite the Manly polish, Cassandra (Cassie) is really just a girl from Blacktown, in the Western Suburbs of Sydney and I love how this novel slowly strips away the facade she has established, the persona she has developed. She starts to care for other people and for the town of Beechville itself and especially for Mac, the rather standoffish ranger who first draws Cassandra’s attention with his lack of regard for her. I really liked their interactions, Cassandra trying to get his attention and him desperately trying to avoid her knowing that he was aware of her. Mac knows that she’s not the sort of girl he should be attracted to but it’s a losing battle he’s fighting.

The other thing I really enjoyed about this book was the frog in the toilet situation. When I was at my first university in Western Sydney, in our second year we had to be moved out of our dorms due to an OH&S issue and placed in some of the houses around campus that were generally for international/guest lecturers. Myself and three other students were placed in this huge gothic-style house on the second floor, which was really only four bedrooms, a sunroom and a bathroom. We shared a kitchen with the downstairs residents, a lecturing couple from America. In our upstairs bathroom we would frequently lift the lid and find a tiny frog swimming around in there. Usually he’d disappear at the lift of the lid but occasionally he didn’t seem bothered and we’d have to scare him back down as it’s not nice to pee on frogs! He stayed there for the entire length of our stay (about ten weeks) and we gave him a name and treated him like a house member. Cassandra’s situation with the frog in the toilet of her cabin reminded me a lot of the time I spent in that house!

I felt the characterisation was well done here – I grew up in an area not too far from where Beechville is supposed to be and am familiar with a lot of the small towns in the area and the people within them. The “countryfication” was well done without the locals seeming like hick stereotypes and having also lived in Sydney, I’ve met a few people like Cassandra as well! I admired the way Cassandra became a character I really felt for by the end – I was nearly crying for her when she discovers a deception towards the end of the book! I always enjoy a writer who can make me feel a myriad of emotions for a character and Lisa Walker certainly achieved that in this book.

7/10

Book #11 of 2012

Liar Bird is the third novel read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012. It’s set in Manly, Sydney briefly and then in a remote part of NSW right up near the border with QLD. The setting is crucial to the story and actually helps really enhance the reader’s enjoyment of the book. The descriptions of the small town are fantastic, the restricted facilities, Cassandra’s run-down cabin and wildlife friends, the rainforest surrounds all help paint a picture. The two settings also seem to reflect Cassandra’s image or personality changes – in Manly certain things are very important to her, she projects a certain image and she rates material possessions, such as her apartment and her car, highly. As she settles in to Beechville and becomes a part of the town, she cares less about material things and a perfect, well groomed look.


11 responses to “Liar Bird – Lisa Walker

  1. Interesting to read about a novel set both on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and remote northern NSW, Bree. They are two areas I’m familiar with and I’d read this story for the settings alone, although your comments on how Liar Bird appeals to the reader’s emotions makes it especially attractive to me.

    Thanks for your review and for participating in and promoting the Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge. Hope you’ll join in next Wednesday evening’s “read a review and comment” on Twitter via the #aww2012 hashtag around 9pm. Open for suggested topics…

    • I grew up in northern NSW (although not as far north as this book is set) and I felt that part of the book was done very well! I’m less familiar with Northern Beaches, but I went to University with quite a few people from the area and a lot of things felt familiar!

      Thanks for your comment Elizabeth, I aim to make the Twitter chats but it all depends on the whims of my 4month old!

  2. I saw this in store recently but thought it looked too ‘chick lit’ for my tastes but you’ve sold me

    • It does definitely have a chick lit feel, particularly at the beginning, but it’s wrapped up in a bit more than that, with environmental issues etc that end up being a fairly important plot line in the book. It’s a bit of fun fluff for sure but it does manage to take a shallow, unlikable character and make her into something more.

  3. Great review, i too thought this one looked too ‘chic lit’ but i like the contrast of city and country and how Cassie has to adapt to another environnment. I’m adding this to my TBR list!

  4. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I will definitely be picking it up – like you I have lived in Sydney and on the north coast. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

  5. VeganYANerds says:

    As soon as you mentioned Manly in your review, I knew I was going to have to add this to my to-read list. I love reading books set on the Nthn Beaches, particularly Manly but there aren’t many of them (Raw Blue comes to mind). I enjoyed your review, Bree 🙂

    Mands

  6. […] Lisa – Liar Bird. (HarperCollins) ChickLit Bree @1girl2manybooks, Marg, Kate […]

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