THE BLB BOOKCLUB

Wednesday 12th June, 6.30pm @ The Best Little Bookshop In Town

'The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone' by Felicity McLain (*with the author herself)

          

The Virgin Suicides meets Picnic at Hanging Rock in this stunning international debut.

"We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song, and when one came back? She wasn't the one we were trying to recall to begin with. Spring slunk off too. Skulked away into the scrub and there, standing in its place, was the summer that scorched the air and burned our nostrils and sealed in the stink. Like the lids on our Tupperware lunchboxes.   That summer was the hottest on record. It was the year the Cold War ended. The year they stopped making Atari 2600s forever. I was eleven and one sixth, but it wasn't enough--by then we'd learned shadows disappeared in the dark."

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in an Australian suburb surrounded by encroaching bushland. The TV news in the background is filled with debate about the exoneration of Lindy ("dingo took my baby") Chamberlain. That summer was when the Van Apfel sisters - Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth - mysteriously disappeared during the school's Showstopper concert, held at the outdoor amphitheater by the river. Did they just run far away from their strange, evangelical parents or overly involved teacher? Were they taken? And, in the end, was anyone actually watching out for them?

While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved and Tikka and her older sister, Laura, have been haunted ever since by the loss of their best friends and playmates.

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home, to try to make sense of that strange moment in time, of the summer that left her frozen in the past, of the girls that she never forgot.

Brilliantly observed, spiky, funny, and unexpectedly endearing, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is part mystery, part coming-of-age story - with a dark shimmering unexplained absence at its heart.

Reviews

“A smart, classy thriller that blazes with the heat of Australia and slowly reveals its many layers.”—Fiona Mozley, author of Man Booker Prize finalist Elmet

'How do you escape your childhood, emotionally, actually? This compelling mystery by Felicity McLean has a rare depth of psychological and emotional truth. It will engage your heart.' Delia Ephron

'Sharp, mysteriously moving and highly entertaining' Robert Drewe

“I deeply admire the languid, lived-in prose of Felicity McLean’s lovely novel The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone. This is a story as much about forgiving ourselves our own childhoods, as it is about acknowledging and embracing the people we’ve become because of those adolescent (and sometimes life altering) choices.”
Hannah Pittard, author of Visible Empire

“Engrossing and goosebumpy from start to finish, this novel about three young sisters who vanish all together one night has the chilling feel of true events that are stranger than fiction, and the stuff of nightmares. But the magic of McLean's art is not just her gift for evoking, in almost hallucinogenic detail, her haunted narrator's childhood—a time and place linked to Australia's notorious true-life story of a baby dragged off in the night by a wild animal—but to do so in the most charming and irresistible of narrative voices. The result is a novel that is as delightful as it is terrifying, and just scary good.”
Tim Johnston, bestselling author of Descent and The Current


“A smart debut. Beautifully atmospheric with its great sense of time and place.”—Melina Marchetta, author of On the Jellicoe Road

"McLean expertly maintains an air of suspense as the tragedy unfolds. Tikka is an unforgettable, if not entirely reliable, narrator full of black humour, brutal honesty and naive curiosity. This novel is one that will haunt readers long after they have turned the last page.”
—Books+Publishing (Australia)