Friday, 7 June 2019

Book Review: Allegra in Three Parts (Contemporary Fiction)

Allegra in Three Parts
Suzanne Daniel

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
Publication date: 28th May 2019 
Pages:  305
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Eleven-year-old Allegra shuttles between her grandmothers who live next door to one another but couldn't be more different. Matilde works all hours and instils discipline, duty and restraint. She insists that Allegra focus on her studies to become a doctor. Meanwhile free-spirited Joy is full of colour, possibility and emotion, storing all her tears in little glass bottles. She is riding the second wave of the women's movement in the company of her penny tortoise, Simone de Beauvoir, encouraging Ally to explore broad horizons and live her 'true essence'. Rick lives in a flat out the back and finds distraction in gambling and solace in surfing. He's trying to be a good parent to Al Pal, while grieving the woman linking them all but whose absence tears them apart.

Allegra is left to orbit these three adult worlds wishing they loved her a little less and liked each other a lot more. Until one day the unspoken tragedy that's created this division explodes within the person they all cherish most.

This is the most heartbreakingly beautiful story of a shattered family ripped apart by tragedy yet holding it together for one child, Allegra. They each live their separate lives, side by side, doing what they think is best for Allegra but in doing so they are breaking her down. She is Allegra, Ally, Al Pal torn between three adults, trying to please everyone.

Their unspoken words bounce of each of them but chisel deep into me.”

The story is narrated by Allegra as she handles bullies at school, makes a new best friend and tries to find her place in the world listening at doors and under windows piecing together snippets of information to make her own naive conclusions.

Within this story about an unconventional family Daniel has managed to cover so many relevant issues without any of it feeling contrived. She explores feminism in the 70’s, the women’s movement, domestic violence, the need for women’s refuges, the far reaching and long term effects of the war, friendship, family and growing up.

I liked the inclusion of the positive influence of the Catholic schooling, and in particular Allegra’s teacher Sister Josepha, had on Allegra’s life. Many are quick to condemn the Catholic system but it has been nothing but positive for me and my children.

Allegra in Three Parts is a novel about family in all it’s complexities. The characters were real and the setting authentic with mentions of songs, fashion and phrases placing it solidly in its time frame. It explores innocence and girlhood. It is heartbreaking and uplifting, an original novel about a remarkable young girl. This pre-teen will steal your heart and remain with you long after the last page is turned.

Two defining moments in this family’s life; one tore them apart. Will the second reconcile them?


My rating  5/5

Letter 'A' in the 2019 A-Z challenge

Photo credit: Nick Epoff

Suzanne Daniel is a journalist and communications consultant who has also worked for ABC TV, the Sydney Morning Herald, the United Nations, BBC (London) and in crisis management and social services. For the past twenty years she has served on community, philanthropic and public company boards. Suzanne lives in Sydney with her husband and family. Allegra in Three Parts is her first novel.

You can connect with the author at the following sites: 
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  1. I look forward to this one, great review.

  2. Ha! We almost wrote the same there about the positive depiction of Catholicism!
    Lovely review! 😊

  3. Snap on our feelings for this one!:)