Given the lushness of West Coast vegetation, it is no surprise to hear that back in 1978 when the Chamberlain family - John, Julia and their four children - were in an accident, their car was never recovered. So how on earth was it possible that in 2010 the remains of one of the children were found, with evidence that Maurice had lived for four years after the crash. How was this possible and where was the rest of the family? And why was Maurice in possession of a tally stick, indicating that he owed a debt?
Told from multiple viewpoints, this evocative story of adaptation and identity is so believable that it will have you wondering if in fact these events did occur.
An absorbing story, black and dark but well-written. The members found the setting authentic. Characters well drawn but men in particular not attractive.
'The Tally Stick' generated conversation in our group. Most found the premise of a disappearance in bush most believable. The writing was convincing and the ending a great twist. The degree of abuse and neglect was hard to read but was starkly described. We are keen to read more of this author's books.
This book produced vigorous discussion, and in the end a rating that was little at odds with some of the views expressed. We liked the strength of the prose, the strong sense of place - notably the portrayal of the New Zealand bush, and to a degree, the characterisation... The book is very readable, and indeed gripping, but its trajectory, the big picture and themes are hinted at but not satisfactorily resolved. Perhaps it is simply a thriller, to be read and enjoyed as a story; but the darkness, blood and general creepiness make it hard to do that.
Largely enjoyed, a good read provoking a lot of discussion. Mixed feelings about the outcome, unknowns and locality, but recommended.
Very dark book. You could tell it was written by a man. Easy read, big print.
Most of the group enjoyed the book - compelling, strong sense of place, disturbing, believable and absorbing. A couple of people did not rate the book highly - too predictable, and the depth of story not developed.
Most members agreed it was a compelling read. Not the most enjoyable story, but well crafted though, and so believable. Some couldn't put the book down.
All agreed that the writer did an excellent job of writing the story as all wanted to keep reading despite the unpleasant topic. One reader did point out that falling off a cliff seemed a simple end compared to the other twists and turns of the story. Overall a good read and we always like to read a New Zealand novel.
Apart from one dissenter, this book was thoroughly enjoyed. Well crafted.
The group all enjoyed the book, but found the storyline quite upsetting. The description was vivid and transported you to the situation. Most couldn't put the book down, and some went back and re read it, as it left you wondering about how and why some situations occurred. Overall a good read but very sad.
The Book Club members had a good discussion of the book. We thought the setting had a malevolence which set the scene for the story that followed. The survival of the fittest was suggested with regard to the West Coast in the 1970s/80s. Despite that, the description of the landscape was poetic at times. The accident was believable, we found similarities to a recent accident in the North island, where a motorist left the road and down a bank in dense bush. In summary, we thought it was a well-written atmospheric novel with Darwinian overtones.
Evocation of atmosphere was skillfully done. Plot development quite compelling - the reader wanted to read on.....
Everyone thought this book a great read. Gripping and atmospheric. Most read it all at once because they couldn't put it down. Realistic and suspenseful. Descriptive writing put the reader right into the setting.
Mixed review - some felt a bit 'flaky'. More of a 'short' story. But loved the West Coast aspect.
All except one enjoyed this book. We found the book easy to read and difficult to put down. A great storyline which kept you guessing throughout.