The thunderclap of sexual revolution collides with the black cloud of illegitimacy.
Sixteen-year-old Lindsay Townsend is pretty and popular at school. At home, it’s a different story. Dad belts her and Mum’s either busy or battling a migraine. So when sexy school-teacher Jon Halliwell finds her irresistible, Lindsay believes life is about to change. She’s not wrong.
Lindsay and Jon pursue their affair in secret, because if the school finds out, Jon will lose his job. If Lindsay’s dad finds out, there will be hell to pay. But when a dramatic accident turns her life upside down, Lindsay is separated from the man she loves.
Events spiral beyond her control, emotions conflicting with doubt, loneliness and fear, and Lindsay becomes enmeshed in a shocking true-life Australian scandal. The schoolyard beauty will discover the dangerous games of the adult world. Games that destroy lives.
Lindsay is forced into the toughest choice of her young life. The resulting trauma will forever burden her heart.
Reflecting the social changes of 1970s Australia, The Swooping Magpie is a chilling psychological tale of love, loss and grief, and, through collective memory, finding we are not alone.
Having loved The Silent Kookaburra I was more than happy to return to 1970’s Australia for another emotional dose of psychological drama. The Swooping Magpie, whilst also set in Wollongong (and Sydney) is not linked, so you can safely enjoy it as a stand alone (though make a mental note to investigate The Silent Kookaburra – you won’t be disappointed).
The story is essentially that of sixteen year old Lindsay Townsend, a girl who has everything she wants at home – except love and affection. An abusive father and a submissive mother help to create a girl who is headstrong and confident, and yet also emotionally naive. A fatal combination when she sets her sights on Jon, a relationship seemingly doomed from the outset given that he’s older, and also a teacher at her school. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and maybe, just maybe, this could work, because he loves her, doesn’t he? Things begin to spiral out of control but with a supportive Jon in the background, she’s prepared to face the consequences.
I’m going to leave you to discover exactly how the drama plays out, because while I thought I had it figured, there are twists I didn’t see coming, which makes the outcome even more heartfelt.
I was quickly drawn in to the story because, despite my age, I can still remember the invincibility of being 16. Those teenage emotions that need an outlet, usually found their release in idolising pop stars, actors, and yes, teachers, though thankfully for most of us, that latter wasn’t reciprocated. Following Lindsay on her emotional journey, we were also watching a child become a woman, and her naivety give way to awareness and wisdom. But it isn’t just Lindsay that will have you reading more, her new-found friends in Sydney, will have you rooting for them too.
The characters throughout are all believable and will have you veering between support and opposition, but you will never be indifferent.
This is a thought-provoking book, that makes you consider how society responds to an age-old problem. Illegitimacy is nothing new, and I’d like to think we’re living in a more enlightened age. However when you consider this was only the 1970’s it seems a world away. I was 16 in the 70’s and it really brought the issue home to me. The story that unfolds is heightened not only by the state sanctioned response, but the background story of lies and loss. Not for the first time, it’s no surprise to see that it’s the victims that pay the ultimate price, while the perpetrators escape unpunished. However, don’t be daunted by this strand of the story, because it also reflects the resilience of the human spirit and reaches a resolution that is both realistic and satisfactory.
While it’s a heartbreaking drama of lost innocence, deceit and a scandal that shook Australia. It’s also a story that will resonate with many, given the stories that are emerging closer to home with the treatment of unmarried mothers, and their babies.
As this is currently on offer for Kindle at 99p take your opportunity to get a copy here.