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y separately published work icon Bereft single work   novel   historical fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 2010... 2010 Bereft
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the NSW town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox - a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.' (From the publisher's website.)


  • Dedication: For Roslyn, who always believed.
  • Epigraph: Every angel is terrible - Rainer Maria Rilke, The Duino Elegies

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Carlton North, Parkville - Carlton area, Melbourne - North, Melbourne, Victoria,: Scribe , 2010 .
      image of person or book cover 5189276984695279331.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 264p.
      ISBN: 9781921640605 (pbk.)
Alternative title: Les affligés
Language: French
    • Paris,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Albin Michel ,
      2012 .
      image of person or book cover 3633825065380612152.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 319p.
      ISBN: 9782226241467

Other Formats

  • Large print.
  • Braille.

Works about this Work

Trauma, Gothic Apocalypse and Critical Mourning : The First World War and Its Aftermath in Chris Womersley’s Bereft Anna Branach-Kallas , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: Anglica : An International Journal of English Studies , vol. 28 no. 3 2019; (p. 97-108)

'The article focuses on Bereft (2010), a novel by Australian writer Chris Womersley, which applies the framework of trauma to depict the (failed) reintegration of the returning soldiers after the First World War. Using Gothic and Apocalyptic tropes, Womersley addresses the question of the aftermath of violence in the lives of an Australian family and the Australian nation. By combining the insights of trauma and Gothic studies, the article demonstrates how Bereft undermines the meta-narrative of Australian participation in the First World War, questioning the myth of Anzac and national cohesion. It proposes to read the novel as an example of critical mourning, which, rather than cure from trauma, suggests a re-examination of the dramatic sequels of the imperial conflict. Rage seems to offer here an intriguing alternative to the forgetful practices of commemoration. By revising the militarized national mythology, Bereft redefines the First World War in terms of loss, trauma and desolation, and negotiates a place for broken bodies and minds in Australian cultural memory.'  (Publication abstract)

Chris Womersley’s Bereft: Ghosts That Dwell on the Margins of Traumatic Memory M. Dolores Herrero , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Anglia : Zeitschrift Fur Englische Philologie , September vol. 133 no. 3 2015; (p. 511–527)
'This paper pays critical attention to the work of Chris Womersley, a contemporary Australian author who, despite winning several awards and being shortlisted for others, remains relatively unknown to the non-Australian reading public. The close reading of Womersley’s novel Bereft undertaken here explores the traumatic impact of horrific events on both the personal, familial level and the broader historical frame. Well-established trauma theories will be rehearsed for the benefit of readers less familiar with this zone of inquiry; these theories lend themselves fruitfully to an allegorical interpretation of Womersley’s novel. Contrary to what some critics claim, literature still has the power to articulate what has often been deemed ‘unutterable’, and, indeed, can contribute to exorcizing the individual and collective traumas of our ‘wounded’ or traumatized times – at the very least by embodying and implicitly arguing for individual and cultural ethical stances and processes of healing that encourage socio-political transformation.' (Publication abstract)
Ruins or Foundations : Great War Literature in the Australian Curriculum Clare Rhoden , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 12 no. 1 2012;
'The Great War has been represented in Australian curricula since 1914, in texts with tones ranging from bellicose patriotism to idealistic pacifism. Australian curricula have included war literature as one way of transmitting cultural values, values that continue to evolve as successive generations relate differently to war and peace. Changes in ethical perspectives and popular feeling have guided text selection and pedagogy, so that texts which were once accepted as foundational to Australian society seem, at later times, to document civilisation's ruin.

In recent years, overseas texts have been preferred above Australian examples as mediators of the Great War, an event still held by many to be of essential importance to Australia. This paper first considers arguments for including Great War texts on the national curriculum, exploring what war literature can, and cannot, be expected to bring to the program. Interrogating the purpose/s of war literature in the curriculum and the ways in which the texts may be used to meet such expectations, the paper then discusses styles of war texts and investigates whether there is a case for including more texts by Australian authors.' (Author's abstract)
Bookmarks Jason Steger , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 14 July 2012; (p. 33)
A column canvassing current literary news including a report on the success of Chris Womersley's Bereft in the United Kingdom. The novel was chosen as part of the Waterstones bookshop chain quarterly book club promotion.
Time for the Timeless Marc McEvoy , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 9 January 2012; (p. 8-9)

— Review of The Vivisector Patrick White , 1970 single work novel ; Autumn Laing Alex Miller , 2011 single work novel ; The Slap Christos Tsiolkas , 2008 single work novel ; Ransom David Malouf , 2009 single work novel ; Caleb's Crossing : A Novel Geraldine Brooks , 2011 single work novel ; Bereft Chris Womersley , 2010 single work novel ; Cloudstreet Tim Winton , 1991 single work novel ; That Deadman Dance Kim Scott , 2010 single work novel ; The Secret River Kate Grenville , 2006 single work novel ; The Lieutenant Kate Grenville , 2008 single work novel ; Sarah Thornhill Kate Grenville , 2011 single work novel ; The Ballad of Desmond Kale Roger McDonald , 2005 single work novel ; Mr Darwin's Shooter Roger McDonald , 1998 single work novel
Untitled Angela Meyer , 2010 single work review
— Appears in: Bookseller + Publisher Magazine , August vol. 90 no. 1 2010; (p. 40)

— Review of Bereft Chris Womersley , 2010 single work novel
A Daring Talent Makes the Familiar Seem Frightening Peter Pierce , 2010 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 28-29 August 2010; (p. 30-31)

— Review of Bereft Chris Womersley , 2010 single work novel
Bereft Ian Barry , 2010 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 28 - 29 August 2010; (p. 24)

— Review of Bereft Chris Womersley , 2010 single work novel
The Odd Couple Out for Redemption Jennifer Levasseur , 2010 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 4 September 2010; (p. 27)

— Review of Bereft Chris Womersley , 2010 single work novel
Chimeric Peace Carmel Bird , 2010 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 324 2010; (p. 39)

— Review of Bereft Chris Womersley , 2010 single work novel
No Place Like Home Chris Womersley , 2010 single work autobiography
— Appears in: Meanjin , Spring vol. 69 no. 3 2010; (p. 102-107)
The Outsiders Paul Mitchell (interviewer), 2010 single work interview
— Appears in: The Big Issue , 31 August - 13 September no. 362 2010; (p. 32-33)
Repeat Offenders George Dunford , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Meanjin , Spring vol. 69 no. 3 2010; (p. 142-148)
The Darker Side Bron Sibree , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 18 September 2010; (p. 21)
Haunted Tales Jane Gleeson-White , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Overland , Summer no. 201 2010; (p. 38-41)
'If it is possible to assess the current state of Australian literature through a reading of four novels published in September and October 2010...then I'd say Australian fiction is haunted, preoccupied with the past'. p. 38
Last amended 19 Feb 2020 16:31:38
  • New South Wales,
  • Country towns,
  • London,
    United Kingdom (UK),
    Western Europe, Europe,
  • 1910s
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