An extraordinary novel from a gifted writer
by Michael Sala
‘Michael Sala has a rare gift: in prose that takes your breath away, he tells a story of heart-rending sorrow without a trace of sentimentality.’ – Raimond Gaita
After a year apart, Maryanne returns to her husband, Roy, bringing their seven-year-old son Daniel and his teenage sister Freya with her. The family move north from Sydney to Newcastle, where Roy plans to restore a derelict house on the coast. Roy is happiest when he is busy, working with his hands. As he painstakingly patches the holes in the floorboards and plasters over cracks in the walls, Maryanne believes, for a while, that they can shore up their relationship and rebuild a life together. But Freya doesn’t want a fresh start—she just wants out—and Daniel drifts around the sprawling, run-down house in a dream, infuriating his father, who soon forgets the promises he has made. Some cracks can never be smoothed over, and tension grows between Roy and Maryanne until their uneasy peace is ruptured—with devastating consequences.
THE RESTORER explores the insufficiency of love, the way trauma shapes identity and the frightening power parents have over the lives of their children.
Michael Sala was born in the Netherlands in 1975 to a Greek father and a Dutch mother, and first came to Australia in the 1980s. His critically acclaimed debut, “The Last Thread”, a blend of memoir and fiction, was compared to J. M. Coetzee’s “Scenes From Provincial Life” and Michael Ondaatje’s “Running in the Family”. It won the 2013 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.