Hold by Kirsten Tranter


I love reading books set in places that I know well.

I love that feeling of being connected and in the know. It makes the story feel more personal – almost like the book was written just for me.

Tranter used to live in the Inner West of Sydney but now works as a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley teaching creative writing.

Hold is her third novel.

One of my good friends, Girl Booker, raved about The Legacy (Tranter’s first book) so much and for so long, that when A Common Loss was published, we both felt compelled to read it straight away.

Sadly, four years later I remember very little about the story except that I liked it and was excited to know that Tranter was writing another. However, a few years ago, I asked GB to write a guest post about her favourite Australian books…and Tranter’s books made the cut.

GB’s “swirly, dreamlike world” description is still spot on – it captures Tranter’s writing style in all three books. There’s a sense of floating along or being immersed in Hold that is quite hypnotic, almost sensual.

Grief and loss are her main themes once again. Tranter creates a tantalising dance between grieving and holding. All the ways to hold and be held pervade the story. As well as their opposite idea – how to let go.

Tranter keeps us guessing as to the true nature of her story – is it a ghost story? a mystery? a romance?

Whatever else it might be, Hold is definitely a love letter to this city – the beaches, the terrace houses, the huge figs trees – even the fruits bats and cockroaches! Set during a hot, humid summery spell in Sydney, we feel the heat, smell the dusty, smoky city and long for the cool sea breeze just like Shelley, our protagonist.

I loved the day to day details that made this book so real even as Tranter threw us off course with secrets, dreams and fantasies.

Contemporary Australian fiction to get lost in.

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