Any book that starts with a mother visiting her son in prison is bound to capture my attention and Amanda Lohrey’s novel was certainly promising.
The book won the 2021 Miles Franklin Literary Award so I had been looking forward to getting my hands on it.
I ended up listening to it on audiobook, and I don’t know whether it was the format that didn’t suit it, but I just didn’t fell it with this novel.
The book did not go into depth about the son and his imprisonment, but centred on the mother’s attempts to bring some control back to her life by building a labyrinth in the backyard of the house she has bought near the prison.
The book meanders along a little too slowly for me as it explores the history of labyrinths and the job of building one.
Characters are introduced, but I struggled to remember who was who. This is often down to listening to a book rather than reading it, so I can’t blame the writer for this problem that was most likely my own.
The real problem was that I never really engaged with the main character, and was much more interested in a different tangent the book might have taken, about the mother-son relationship, than in the meditative building of the labyrinth.
This one wasn’t for me, although it might suit people who like symbolism in their books (which is never my favourite thing. No wonder I have never really been attracted to poetry).