Lead Review

  • Book: No Country For Girls
  • Location: Western Australia
  • Author: Emma Styles

Review Author: Tina Hartas

Location

Content

A whiff of inspiration taken perhaps from the film No Country for Old Men (set in the desert landscape of Western Texas and where one man stumbles upon a large sum of money and a hitman is bent upon retrieving it). Now travel 16,000 odd kilometres and land in the arid landscape of Western Australia. The story further feels familiar having watched “Wanted”, a Netflix series where polar-opposite female strangers have to team up and go on the run in Australia. (Series 1 is fabulous, Series 2 not so much).

The novel opens in Perth where Charlie (female) has stolen a small bar of gold from Daryl, who is a friend – a boyfriend – of her sister Geena. Daryl is coming to find her, he wants it back but before Charlie can get into her house, she stumbles across Nao, who begs her for a safe place to stay. They  don’t know each other but it is clear that both are running from something. Entering the house, Daryl makes his presence felt, he is waiting for Charlie. The girls are in deep trouble and after a violent encounter they abscond, together, and set off North, towards Broome as it transpires – a 22 hour drive away by car for those who aren’t familiar with the phenomenal distances in Australia. They, of course, have to learn to trust each other – if they ever can, and they have to rub along as best they can, given the danger in which they find themselves.

The two outlaws first head to Nao’s aunt. They are by now in possession of a holdall, containing more matching gold bars. Both women have backstories when it comes to their families, and it is here that the reader begins to learn a little about the Stolen Generations, as Nao comes from an Aboriginal background.

Sister Geena also plays her part in the narrative, as the Charlie and Nao find themselves being chased up the Highway.

The novel was first penned during Lockdown and subsequently, in January 2022, the author says how strange and wonderful it was, post Lockdown, to be seeing, hearing and smelling things she had put in the book. There is such a strong sense of the arid and unforigiving setting and the constant danger of breaking down on the side of the interminable roads, where passengers could bake both inside and outside the car under the beating sun. And very easily die. As they drive north, the vegetation certainly starts to change as the women hurtle through the inhospitable terrain, the story coming to its conclusion, with plenty of twists along the way.

It is indeed a page turner and bowls along in a convincing and well thought out way, as the miles mount.

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