Book Review: The Running Club

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, shares his thoughts on The Running Club, the latest novel by Ali Lowe.

WORDS: Dave Bradley, Arts Reviewer

Lowe’s second novel (after last year’s The Trivia Night) again takes place in her home turf, Sydney, and while it’s another complex character drama, the snarky humour of her previous outing is rather less in evidence, making this one feel darker and tougher.

A cast of interconnected characters live mostly in the monied realms of the (fictional) suburb Esperance, although some came from Shivers Beach, the lower-class end of town, much as they’d hate to admit it now. And they’re all tied together by the ritual of regularly racing – or at least being seen walking – around the local running track.

Twins Lottie and Shelby figure heavily here, and despite the potential cliché in having one be tense and tormented (Lottie), and one be mean and manipulative (Shelby), Lowe sidesteps the silly stereotypes and makes us believe them. Poor Lottie is married to gynaceologist Piers, while Shelby is married to Tino, whom she enjoys torturing.

There’s also Carole and her husband Max, old schoolfriend Freya and her considerably older lawyer spouse Bernard (who’s often treated cruelly by all, including the author), and their assorted, and entitled, kids. And, as we all get to know them, we wonder which of them is going to wind up dead, as given away right from the word go.

Lowe takes a very dim view of the wealthy and privileged classes, and yet we nevertheless do care about these people, even as they engage in some seriously snobby behaviour. There’s also the familiar but clever trick of having chapter-long flashbacks from a variety of perspectives, all of which help make you wonder who exactly killed whom, and why? After all, almost all of these guys would have gladly murdered at least one of their friends and neighbours, at some point. And perhaps got away with it?

And who knew that rich Sydneysiders carried on in such sordid fashions? I mean really…

RRP $32.99, Hachette Press

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