Another Lesley Glaister novel to follow on from the last and this one I found more satisfying – very much in the category of Honour Thy Father, which I still think is her very best. Once again the usual suspects are there – the dysfunctional eccentrics, the traumatic histories, the psychological baggage, but with As Far As You Can Go Glaister uses the landscape of the Australian outback as a threatening, relentless presence, a malevolent character in its own right, just as she used the brooding, melancholy flateness of the East Anglian fens as a way of evoking the sinister atmosphere in Honour Thy Father.
As Far As You Can Go also cleverly plays on modern folklore and contemporary fears. A couple of high profile real incidences of young British people going missing, or being raped or murdered whilst travelling through Australia, have created a whole series of myths about the Outback being a place of danger, not just from the harsh natural landscape and the relentless landscape (although that is bad enough), but also from the people who live there, people who have withdrawn from society to live in this almost featureless landscape, a landcsape from which there is no escape. Glaister shamelessly exploits these fears as she tells the story of a young British couple who take a job in the Outback, partly as an adventure and partly as a make-or-break attempt to fix their troubled relationship. Inevitably it becomes more of an adventure than they bargained for.
When I am reading, I very often get caught up in a good narrative and continue reading into the small hours to finish a book. It is less common for me to find a book scary enough (and I don’t mind admitting it!) to simultaneously not want to read on, for fear of what might happen, but also unable to stop reading, because I really need to know what happens next. This book did exactly that!