Favel Parrett – When The Night Comes (4 stars)

Favel Parrett – When The Night Comes

Beautifully poignant split narrative following a family's tie to the sea


The split narrative of Favel Parrett's second novel follows the stories of Bo, a chef on board the polar vessel Nella Dan, and Isla, the daughter of the woman with whom he stays in Hobart when the ship docks. Through this simple relationship she explores a family’s tie to the sea, and a community's bond with a ship.

The largest character in the novel is Nella Dan herself. She controls the lives of both the crew and those left on shore, but Parrett never portrays her as a cruel mistress. Instead she’s respected as a intrepid mother figure and a symbol of camaraderie and adventure.

The novel’s imagery is beautifully vivid; whether Parrett is depicting the hostile landscape of the vast Antarctic seas or the simple act of cracking walnuts, she invokes a vivid sense of place with brevity of language. The thoughtfulness of the two introverted narrators and the often scant dialogue creates a sense of foreboding throughout. Tragic accidents create a narrative of loss that culminates in a poignant story where only the sea is permanent.

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