Bluebottle

By Belinda Castles
Allen & Unwin


Belinda Castles

Judges' report


Bluebottle is a dexterous, assured work of a rare kind: a literary novel with the mesmerising force of a thriller. Evocatively set on Sydney’s northern beaches, it swoops between past and present to trace the ramifications of an old tragedy. Charismatic, volatile Charlie Bright, the focal point of the novel, is obsessed with the disappearance of a schoolgirl to the mystification of his family. His wife and children alternate between bidding for Charlie’s approval and hoping to pass under his radar. Decades later, mysteries continue to trouble the Brights. Castles effortlessly maintains suspense over the course of her narrative, proof of her tremendous storytelling power.

The precision of Castles’ observations, her attentiveness to nature and her remarkable understanding of family dynamics make this novel outstanding. Central to Castles’ achievement is the formidable sense of menace she creates around Charlie, which brings The Man Who Loved Children to mind.

Further reading


Reviews

‘Castles maintains an exquisite suspense that forces the reader to wonder about how many “facts” have been distorted by nostalgia. The characters, especially the siblings, feel authentically flawed and vulnerable and both timeframes are compelling, with each step into the past expertly adding another layer of complexity.’
Frances Atkinson, Sydney Morning Herald

‘Her flowing narrative, well-crafted characters and underlying dark suspense had me hooked until the last page.’
Robert Fairhead, WritingNSW.org.au