Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson

where trees are

Reviewed by Susan

I would describe this book as a ‘love song to the landscape’,  as it so evocatively describes the characters’ relationships with it, as if the landscape itself has a personality.

Written alternately from the perspective of Jay as a teenager and then as a young woman, the novel traverses the country of Western NSW and Canberra. Rural farm life is the setting of honesty, deceit, love and tragedy, as the history of pastoralism in the region is exposed when Jay and her friends discover some ancient Aboriginal carved burial poles near the river where they like to camp. Years later, as an art curator, the trees come to haunt her again, and she is faced with the dilemma of whether to honour a childhood pact with her friends or not.