‘A happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else.’ (Flanagan, p.3)
Read this book a couple of years ago, and been haunted by it ever since!
Richard Flanagan‘s novel, ‘The Narrow Road To The Deep North’ is a story of doomed love; a story which left me feeling as frustrated with the actions, or inaction, of the main character, Dorrigo, as I did following a liaison Thomas Hardy‘s introspective Jude!
The Tasmanian-born Dorrigo falls in love with his Uncle’s much-younger wife, and she with him. This is all great so far – surely the wife will leave the Uncle (he’s too old for her anyway) and live happily ever after with Dorrigo. But, happy endings don’t happen in the novels produced by any writer, who just happens to have read too many Hardy classics (and I’m pretty cert that Flanagan’s read the whole collection!).
The lovers are separated by the usual social conventions and by the intrusion of World War two. Dorrigo ends up as a prisoner in a Japanese Prisoner-of-War camp, and has to bear witness to fellow inmates being beaten, starved and worked to the point of death.
The relief that I feel when Dorrigo, against all the odds, survives, is soon smashed by a post-war ending in which he never does ….
Just look up, Dorrigo! Just look up, smile and open your mouth! Speak to her! Do it!
Of course, this is a novel in the Hardyesque tradition, and Dorrigo never does … do it!
Haunting and extremely frustrating.
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, 14th October, 2019