When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett
Having enjoyed Favel Parrett’s Past the Shadows, I was looking forward to reading When the Night Comes. However, I must admit, I did wonder whether I’d be as engaged with the characters this time round. I needn’t have worried. Perhaps my enjoyment was increased due to the fact I remember MV Nella Dan and her fate and have fond memories of Hobart; but Parrett can tell a good story and I found myself being carried along with her narrative.
Telling the story of two summers through the eyes of a young girl Isla and Danish sailor Bo, we move between Hobart, the Southern Ocean, Antarctica and Denmark, and each of these places is brought to life with Parret’s descriptions of the tension between beauty and harshness. This is definitely not a novel to read when you’re feeling uncomfortably cold, as that discomfort will be amplified. Throughout the story, life continues to throw challenges at Isla, Bo and their families, and indeed the Nella Dan, creating much more than a ‘feel-good happily-ever-after’ novel, and more than just a story of survival.
There are moments of real pathos, related with compelling immediacy. The relationships between the characters are well drawn and entirely plausible. At the same time as he is welcomed into Isla’s family as they’re beginning a new life in Hobart, Bo finds a mutual companionship with Isla’s mother, helps Isla’s little brother, and opens Isla’s eyes to the real beauty around her. Through his stories and descriptions of the birds which survive the icy conditions of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica and in passing on his cooking skills, Bo comforts her fears and encourages her to grasp life with both hands.
When the Night Comes is a good, satisfying read.
Reviewed by Guest Blogger Barbara, a Co-op Member since 2012.