I found it difficult to put down this haunting novel with its memorable characters. I felt that the characters were so real that they seemed like friends! I wanted to read Treading Water all in one go because the story was just so intriguing, but I couldn’t do that, unfortunately. However, I wondered what was happening in the book while I did other things!
The book begins when Lucy sees someone jump from a Brisbane bridge and finds out that it is someone who she once met. She then starts thinking about her troubled adolescence. A privileged child, Lucy’s life changed completely when her father abandoned the family. Her intrepid mother Sandy then had to struggle to keep them on their feet. Lucy’s life begins to intersect with Paul’s family because she becomes friendly with his cousin Beth.
Lucy has to deal with several issues, including her father’s new life and bad treatment of her mother, her unhappiness at school and her sister, who is hard to like. She spends her life ‘treading water’ and finds it difficult to develop her inner strength.
The tension slowly builds until we get to the dark mystery at the heart of the book and we find out what happens to Lucy. The unfolding drama would make an excellent movie, although I did get a bit confused with all the characters sometimes. Maybe, a few minor ones could be left out of the film.
Brisbane plays such a major role in the book that it’s almost a character, too. I thought that Angie Oakley described the conflicted relationship of the characters with Brisbane that was typical of the 1980s extremely well. This probably isn’t as prevalent now when we’re supposed to have ‘grown up’ but, on the other hand, the soul of the city is being ruined with so many old Queenslanders being redeveloped. However, I am getting off-topic! I did think that comparing the greenery of the city with Kew Gardens was going a little far, but I can see what the author meant.
This is one of the best Australian novels that I’ve read! I highly recommend it. Random House, Penguin, Hachette – where are you?