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Book Review: Signs of Flight by Catherine Skipper

Signs of Flight gently wafts through the halls of memory of Connie’s childhood in 1940s Australia, recreating the child’s glimpses of an adult world interpreted through a language not yet learned. Connie balances unsteadily on the threshold which will propel her from childhood, knowing that there is another world to be entered but not yet understanding the complex relationship dynamics which operate there. She retreats to the liminal world of fairy tales but already perceives the darkness that gathers at the edges of the unknown ‘grown up ‘world. Through conversations half-heard and puzzling unresolved encounters in her restricted social sphere, Connie’s butterfly self is poised to emerge from a cocoon of innocence.

Catherine Skipper has crafted a flowing stream of childhood memories with a dream-like quality where time slows down and a simpler life is recalled. Connie’s naiveté is portrayed through exquisite use of language and skilful characterisation of the light and the darkness in humanity. More poetic than sustained narrative, Signs of Flight provides an opportunity to revisit one’s own past and re-examine shared experiences of power and powerlessness, innocence and experience, optimism and defeat. Such a finely drawn portrait of Connie’s growing awareness of the heightened tension in her changing world and her readiness to emerge from the chrysalis of childhood compels the reader to ponder the unfolding events of her life which have caused Connie to reflect on her earlier days. Surely an equally entrancing sequel will follow to explore Connie’s entry to adulthood and beyond.

 

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