I hadn’t read a book by Melina Marchetta since the gorgeous Looking for Alibrandi as a teenager, so I was curious to see what The Place on Dalhousie was like.
The Place on Dalhousie is told from the perspective of Rosie, who walked away from her life in Sydney after the deaths of mother, then her father. On her return to the house her father built over many years, she find her father’s widow, Martha – who had been married for a year before his death – living in the house.
It makes for a complicated and bitter arrangement, with Rosie railing against her stepmother, and confusing her anger at the death of her parents for how she feels about Martha. The arrival of a baby only exacerbates many of the problems.
From here, there are complicated romantic relationships and friendships that are all very Australian. Sometimes, ridiculously so. There are netball teams, a mother’s group, a handsome SES worker, and even a Monaro.
I was a little bothered by Rosie’s prickliness – she has put up a wall around herself after her parents’ death, which is understandable, but she seems so judgmental at the same time. Even though I enjoyed reading her story, I just never really warmed to her.
I guess you don’t need to love all of the characters in a book, but I felt that Marchetta wanted the reader to see through the tough exterior and appreciate Rosie’s honesty and her straightforward Australianess. However, I found it too difficult to accept her selfishness in the face of the kindness and generosity that she received from her neighbour, her partner, her grandmother, and often, Martha.
It was a worthwhile read, but for me, cannot compare with Looking for Alibrandi.