MURRELL, Belinda The Sequin Star Random House, 2014 272pp $16.99 pbk ISBN 9780857982056 SCIS 1657951
When present-day Claire is knocked over by a bicycle, she is carried back to Sydney in the 1930s, just as the Bridge is opened. She finds herself in the middle of Sterling Brothers Circus, and is befriended by the talented Rosina, a dancing horsewoman. Getting back to her real family involves another knock on the head, but not before she meets her own grandparents.
Murrell has written other time-slip novels, creating various times in the past. In this one she provides a picture of tough times during the Great Depression, the energetic life of the circus and the excitement of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There is also a kidnapping, and, in the present, the serious illness of her grandmother.
The modern life of Claire holds the brooch that acts as the memento which takes Claire back, and it reappears in the past. Murrell’s grasp of her historical material is strong, but Claire’s present-day life adds little to the novel’s strength, although the experience may provide the girl with a little more compassion than she had previously displayed. However, the consequences of Claire’s life in the thirties as it resonates in the twenty-first century are not explored. The novel’s best section describes old Sydney and the sparkle of the circus with Rosina’s performances.
reviewed by Stella Lees