The World Without Us is a beautifully told story of secrets and survival, family and community, loss and renewal.
Part of Juchau’s success emerges from the delicacy of her evocations of the natural world. Another part arises from her wry observations of the way people behave and interact. But the main reason why this novel has impressed me (and makes me eager to read Juchau’s earlier work) is because this youngish author has already learnt how to allow abstract concerns and preoccupations to emerge subtly from at times commonplace characters and situations, rather than trumpeting them.
This brings us back to the title and to the novel’s overarching symbol or conceit: bees and bee-keeping. The World Without Us may be read as a whispered account of the calamity facing an overheating and over-exploited planet.
3.2 rating based on 614 ratings (all editions)
Told from the perspective of six, interconnected characters, The World Without Us is a tale of love in all its forms, a mystery and an elegy for a denatured landscape. It is about the ways we become lost to ourselves, and the transformative joys of being found.
After a fire destroys her family's commune home, Evangeline is forced to start afresh in the north coast rainforest town with her child, and partner, Stefan Muller.Years later, while tending the bees on their farm, Stefan discovers a car wreck, and not far off, human remains.
While the locals speculate on who has gone missing from the transient hinterland town, Stefan's daughters Tess and Meg, have a more urgent mystery. Where does their mother go each day, pushing an empty pram and returning wet, muddy and disheveled?
Jim Parker, a Sydney teacher escaping his own troubles arrives in their clannish community. One morning he stumbles upon Evangeline, naked by a river with a hammer and some rope. Their charged encounter propels Evangeline's past into the present and sparks a change in all their lives.
Meanwhile ten year old Tess, mute since the loss of her youngest sister, attempts to escape. Will getting lost help her discover where she belongs?
As the rainy season descends, and each of the family are separated by flood, they realise nothing is what it seems.