The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Pub Date 18 Mar 2019 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2019

Talking about this book? Use #TheVanApfelGirlsAreGone #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Description

Part mystery, part coming of age story, The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is set in a distant suburb on the encroaching bushland, over the long hot summer of 1992. It's the summer of the school's Showstopper concert. The summer Tikka never forgot. The summer the Van Apfel sisters disappeared. Blackly comic, sharply observed and wonderfully endearing.

'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.'

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992 - the summer the Van Apfel sisters disappeared. Hannah, beautiful Cordelia and Ruth vanished during the night of the school's Showstopper concert at the amphitheatre by the river, surrounded by encroaching bushland.

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home to try and make sense of the summer that shaped her, and the girls that she never forgot.

Blackly comic, sharply observed and wonderfully endearing, this is Picnic at Hanging Rock for a new generation, a haunting coming-of-age story with a shimmering, unexplained mystery at its heart.

'The debut of a striking new voice in Australian fiction.' Adelaide Advertiser

'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

'An exceptional piece of storytelling' Australian Book Review

Part mystery, part coming of age story, The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is set in a distant suburb on the encroaching bushland, over the long hot summer of 1992. It's the summer of the school's...


Advance Praise

'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

'For readers who were captivated by The Virgin Suicides or Picnic at Hanging Rock. Unforgettable.' Bookseller and Publisher *****

'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 

'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

...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781460755068
PRICE A$32.99 (AUD)

Available on NetGalley

Send To Kindle (MOBI)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 15 members


Featured Reviews

I requested this book belatedly after seeing it pop up in a few places. It's got one of those interesting titles and alluring covers and, though I didn't entirely know what I was going to be reading, the notion of disappearing girls seemed to be something that sat firmly in my reading comfort zone. I very much liked McLean's writing and note - though this is her first novel - she's previously ghost-written a number of books, so her prose reflect a comfortable confidence. I wasn't sure if it was just the cover and its blurb conjuring up visions of some sort of ethereal presence reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides and Picnic at Hanging Rock but there was a strong sense of eeriness throughout. Having said that, the plot itself is more 'grounded' than "Picnic" and the sense of menace more tangible.  It unfolds from the point of view of Tikka (which is a nickname and I don't think we learn her real name. As an aside, I kept thinking we may eventually find out the character is male or something!). We meet Tikka in the present but she takes us back to her childhood, to the time of the disappearance of the Van Apfel girls. It jumps about in time a little (in the past) and it occasionally confused me in that respect as I wasn't sure if things were happening before or after other events.  That's obviously not a big issue but just means that I found the girls' story a little disjointed in parts. I adored young Tikka and her complete lack of guile. As a kid she's sassy and smart. As an adult she's never recovered from the guilt of the secrets she kept when the girls disappeared. This story - of course - is as much about the lives of Hannah, Cordelia and Ruth 'before' as it is about their disappearance. And it's as much about Tikka and Laura as it is about the Van Apfel girls. The blurb talks about a 'coming of age' story and it is in some ways though it's about such a short moment in time that it's more of a snapshot about an idyllic and not-so-idyllic childhood. It's about childhood innocence, friendships and the lives we keep hidden. As an adult reading this novel and in retrospect for Tikka and Laura there would have been a lot of red flags: the bruises, the secrets, the feelings of unease experienced around certain men and the way 'God' spoke to Mr Van Apfel and instructed him when it came to disciplining Cordie. And it's Cordie who remains vivid in Tikka's memory as she's the most enigmatic of the three girls, drawing more attention - both good and bad. "She knew more. She sensed more. Cordie kept strange, private things curled up in her carelessness that were too tight for the rest of us to unravel. Of course she'd come back to flaunt that in our faces. It seemed so obvious afterwards." p 30 (in my ebook version). I'm a bit of a control freak so like answers and closure but can also appreciate that we don't always need to know. However I probably would have liked a little more clarity. We kinda learn the why and what happens (after all, Tikka tells us it all starts with Cordelia's broken arm and her 'fall' from the tree) but it also offers up some sense of why there was a time imperative for the girl's disappearance. The strengths of this novel for me is the ethereal quality I mention and McLean's writing. Her character development is also really strong and I loved young Tikka in the same way everyone adored Harper Lee's Scout's earnestness. Older Tikka is living a half-life of sorts and it's a reminder how secrets, guilt and the unknown can impact on us. "You've got to find a way to live with it," Laura tells Tikka years later. As an aside, I also enjoyed the glimpses / reminders of Aussie cultural history, particularly the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, and conviction and exoneration of her mother, which figured strongly in the novel.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: