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Publisher's Summary

Dark, sharp, blackly funny and powerful, this is memoir, wielded as weapon, with the tightly compressed energy of an explosive device. 

"She has a poet's gift for language, a playwright's sense of drama and a stand-up comic's talent for timing. But perhaps most remarkable is the generosity of spirit with which she writes about family trauma. The book flows with kinetic energy, wit and wisdom. Upon reaching the last page, I found myself turning to the beginning and starting again, not wanting it to end." (New York Times)

This is a memoir about a dysfunctional family, about a mother and her daughters. But make no mistake. This is like no mother-daughter relationship you know. 

When Vicki Laveau-Harvie's elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki and her sister travel to their parents' isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help their father. Estranged from their parents for many years, Vicki and her sister are horrified by what they discover on their arrival. For years, Vicki's mother has camouflaged her manic delusions and savage unpredictability, and over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world, systematically starving him and making him a virtual prisoner in his own home. Vicki and her sister have a lot to do, in very little time, to save their father. And at every step they have to contend with their mother, whose favourite phrase during their childhood was "I'll get you and you won't even know I'm doing it".

A ferocious, sharp, darkly funny, and wholly compelling memoir of families, the pain they can inflict and the legacy they leave, The Erratics has the tightly coiled, compressed energy of an explosive device - it will take your breath away. 

Winner of the 2019 Stella Prize, winner of the 2018 Finch Memoir Prize, shortlisted for the 2019 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

"If someone had told me this manuscript was by a young Margaret Attwood or Alice Munro, I wouldn't have been surprised. The bleak beauty of the Canadian landscape set against this wry memoir of a daughter's journey with her sister through their parents' decline into ill-health and dementia is an extraordinary read." (Candida Baker)

"The Erratics grabbed me by the throat and never let go. Its sharp vinegary tone added a thrilling and bracing note to this portrayal of an extreme dysfunctional family. The writing has a visceral quality as well as a terrific sense of timing, irony and place - an unfamiliar and remote location far removed from Australia, but the author's tug back to Australia from this cold, inhospitable setting adds another dimension of contrast. There is a universality to the story, of ageing parents and conflicted children grappling with uncomfortable responsibilities. I loved it." (Caroline Baum, author, Only)

©2017 Vicki Laveau-Harvie (P)2019 HarperAudio

What listeners say about The Erratics

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Wickedly funny story about a difficult family.

The author of this memoir is Canadian Aussie, but I found the humour oh so very Australian. The story was a delicate balance of respecting family with all its blemishes, demonstrating the bounds that tie are more love than duty. But told with dry wit and a touch of sarcasm. However, I would have preferred a different narrator. A delightful surprise none the less.

5 people found this helpful

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Like a good friend telling a tale

Beautiful story telling, poetic imagery I was sighing at the grace of this writer & the subject matter underrepresented in our society. The realistic narration was like the author telling me the tale in person. Can see why it one this prize well deserved!

2 people found this helpful

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An enticing tale like your grandparents would tell

First of, I had no problem with the voice of the narrator as some had mentioned. I found, however that the narrator would read the book slower than I am used to but found that if you increased the speed (mine was 1.35x) it made the story smoother and more enjoyable. For the story itself, I enjoyed listening to her telling her story. I found her voice reminding me of when my grandparents would recount their stories listening to all these great tales of things that had happened before I was around. There were times, when the story would suddendly jump to different points in her life, back and forth and it confused me but not enough to take from the story. Not to spoil but I found the last chapter somewhat disappointing, confusing and maybe unnecessary. Overall I would recommend this book, as it tells the honest, heartbreaking story of the hardships of a dysfunctional family. I would suggest using the "sample" feature if you're concerned about the reviews regarding the narrator as this would help in your deciding whether to buy the audiobook or a printed copy to read yourself.

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Heartbreaking and humorous in equal parts

I love that it is the author who is reading her own memoir. Her distinctive voice (which some have not liked) gives conviction and warmth to the sometimes devastating details of her life amidst the madness of the memories she is sharing with us. Her story is written (and narrated) with love and a clear-eyed, at times brutal, honesty. You will not be disappointed.

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Narrator was awful

The story was good and I wanted to like it , but was total unlistenable because of the narrator. Will buy print copy

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exceptional yarn!

Beautifully crafted and read. A wonderful storyline reflecting the reality of life's challenges and joys.

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  • DC
  • 09-04-2020

Boring

Didn't like the style of writing, it didn't flow and never caught my interest. No peak or climax or purpose. I couldn't invest in any of the characters.

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  • Thea Maclean
  • 26-07-2020

Gripping, well paced and intimate

I loved the audio version of this book, narrated by the author herself. She brings warmth, and sometimes lightness to an otherwise bleak memoir. Beautifully written.

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