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The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta: Book review

By's Anna Gowan

The Piper's son picks up five years on from the conclusion of Melina Marchetta's much-loved novel, Saving Francesca. Back then, Tom Finch was part of Francesca's beloved inner-circle of friends. Now, he's burned all his bridges and alienated himself from his friends, particularly his ex-girlfriend, Tara.

Tom Mackee (or Thomas, as he was known in Saving Francesca) has hit rock-bottom. After waking up in hospital following a bender, he retreats to his auntie's house in the suburbs of Sydney to reflect on the mess his life has become.

Tom's family aren't much better. Each is struggling to cope with the untimely death of Tom's uncle Joe in the London tube bombings in 2005. Meanwhile, there's another issue to deal with regarding the remains of Tom's grandfather, who was killed in the Vietnam War.

Determined to settle an old debt at a bar, Tom finds himself reluctantly working alongside the girls he's successfully avoided for years: Francesca and Justine, who are in regular communication with Tara, much to Tom's chagrin.

While a sequel, The Piper's Son does not require prior knowledge of Marchetta's original novel. Fans of Saving Francesca will relish the chance to reunite with Marchetta's much-loved characters, however this is a different story.

The Piper's Son wrestles with grief and loss, regret and dishonesty. Yet Marchetta has a remarkable ability to balance high-emotion with levity without resorting to cliché.

Marchetta deftly negotiates Tom through emotionally-wrought scenes with his family, his ex-girlfriend and his friends. She instils each character with a strong and independent voice. Their conversations are in turns heart-breaking and hilarious.  It's difficult not to like Marchetta's characters, even when they're at their worst.

Despite being branded as a young-adult fiction writer, Melina Marchetta's novels transcend generations, The Piper's Son included.


The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
RRP: $29.00
Available: Now