“It’s a story of suffering: obsessive love, sexual betrayal and jealousy, abandonment of small children; violence, madness and despair; two suicides; repeated acts of forgiveness and loyalty that are nothing short of heroic; and threaded through all this, the miraculous blossoming of a child’s intellect.
The book changed the quality of the literary air in this country. People often take an unusually emotional tone when they speak about it, as if it had performed for them the function that Franz Kafka demanded: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” Reading it, with its stiff, passionate dignity and its moral demands, can smash open a reader’s own blocked-off sorrows. Out they rush to meet those that the book relates.”
Helen Garner, The Monthly