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1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Breeding Season by Amanda Niehaus

on September 11, 2019

The Breeding Season
Amanda Niehaus
Allen & Unwin
2019, 263p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

The rains come to Brisbane just as Elise and Dan descend into grief. Elise, a scientist, believes that isolation and punishing fieldwork will heal her pain. Her husband Dan, a writer, questions the truths of his life, and looks to art for answers. Worlds apart, Elise and Dan must find a way to forgive themselves and each other before it’s too late.

An astounding debut novel that forensically and poetically explores the intersections of art and science, sex and death, and the heartbreaking complexity of love. The Breeding Season marks the arrival of a thrilling new talent in Australian literature.

I don’t find this an easy review to write. I requested this book for review because I was really interested how it would explore grief, a devastating loss, one that can really either bind couples together or force them apart. But the more I got into this book, the less that grief seemed to dominate the pages. It does in the very beginning, with Elise barely able to move, can’t even get out of bed, can’t or won’t talk to husband Dan, who spends his days wandering their house as the rains beat down, trapped in his own grief, a grief that Elise doesn’t seem to recognise. In the beginning there’s a lot of sympathy for them, to have experienced such a terrible, awful thing and be dealing with it, or trying to. But the more the book went on, the more complicated my feelings became, the more it seemed to leave that actual grief behind and get a bit lost.

This is the sort of book that is very bleak. It begins with the aftermath of an awful event and just kind of keeps piling them on. There’s definitely a chance that some people will struggle with the mood of this book, which is oppressive and humid, feeling just like being trapped in never-ending Queensland rains. Just when you think that there might be an opportunity for hope and a positive future, it’s snatched away and the book takes an even darker turn. It also contains my greatest trigger, which regular readers will know but I don’t particularly want to spoil that aspect of the book here. It’s the sort of thing however, that I feel as though people should be warned about because it can be very distressing to come across it when you’re completely not expecting it.

Unfortunately, although beautifully written in a very literary and lyrical sort of way, this book was just not for me. I found it very difficult to become involved in Elise’s work, which I didn’t find particularly interesting and her decision to remove herself and go on field work was a bit puzzling in the fact that it didn’t seem to play out in any really relevant way. Dan’s actions are predictable from a phone call incredibly early on in the book which for me, made him a character that was difficult to later sympathise with because his actions are so incredibly infuriating. There are twists in this book that do seem to go nowhere and have no real impact on the story and it’s almost like for me, it began to take on a bit too much. It’s not a long book and there are some plot lines in here that seem to come to a bit of an abrupt end, having served no real purpose. I found myself asking quite a bit of ‘why did this happen?’ or ‘what was the point of including that bit in there?’ with no real answers.


Book #138 of 2019

The Breeding Season is book #59 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2019

2 responses to “Review: The Breeding Season by Amanda Niehaus

  1. A thoughtful, honest review.thanks for sharing your thoughts

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