When her elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki travels to her parents’ isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help her father. She has been estranged from her parents for many years (the reasons for which rapidly become clear) and is horrified by what she discovers on her arrival.
Her mother has always been mentally unstable, but for years camouflaged her delusions and unpredictability. Over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world.
Vicki’s father, who has been systematically starved and kept virtually a prisoner in his own home, begins to realise what has happened to him and embarks upon plans of his own to combat his wife.
Vicki quickly realises how dangerous, and potentially life-threatening, her mother’s behaviour is. She fears for her father’s life and her own safety if her mother returns home. The power play between her parents takes a dramatic turn and leaves Vicki embroiled in situations that are ludicrous, heart-breaking, and frightening.
All this makes for an intensely gripping, yet black-humoured family drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
‘The Erraticsgrabbed me by the throat and never let go. Its sharp vinegary tone added a thrilling and bracing note to this portrayal of an extreme dysfunctional family. The writing has a visceral quality as well as a terrific sense of timing, irony and place – an unfamiliar and remote location far removed from Australia, but the author’s tug back to Australia from this cold, inhospitable setting adds another dimension of contrast. There is a universality to the story, of ageing parents and conflicted children grappling with uncomfortable responsibilities. I loved it.’
Caroline Baum, author, journalist, broadcaster and literary reviewer
‘If someone had told me this manuscript was by a young Margaret Attwood or Alice Munro, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The bleak beauty of the Canadian landscape set against this wry memoir of a daughter’s journey with her sister through their parents’ decline into ill-health and dementia is an extraordinary read. The Erraticsof the title is a huge boulder on flat prairie land, which years ago caved in and became unsafe to climb. An apt metaphor for the difficulties of traversing the boulders of family life for sure.’
Candida Baker, author, journalist, literary critic and editor