A guest to my radio program The Good Life on 3MDR on the 17th of Feb 2020 was author J.P. (Josh) POMARE, whose recent book ‘In The Clearing‘ I loved and in which I became totally involved. Set in Australia, it reverberates very strongly with those of us who have followed the story (well known now) of The Family, a cult which had its beginnings in the Dandenong Ranges.
Founded by wealthy and glamorous Anne Hamilton-Bryne, it attracted a following of devotees and also involved a number or children who were “brain washed ” to accept the leader as their mother. To heighten this image, all the children had their hair bleached to present a “family likeness”.
The book is written in two streams of narrative… one by an 8 year old girl, the other by a woman who is a mother herself but a woman with dark secrets she dare not reveal. (I felt a bit like that as I interviewed Josh … I was very very wary of giving away too much of what is a very complex story!)
As the book progresses, the chapters by the girl and the woman are interspersed with brief chapters by someone we know only as The Watcher, a very sinister presence! These chapters are filled with darkness and threat!
As the book progresses, the two characters merge and we have to stand back and reassess our opinions. I also had to treqd very warily in our interview in case I happened to give away too much .. I don’t think that happened!
Josh was obviously intrigued by The Family cult himself and did a great deal of research, which he outlines at he end of the book.
This is a brilliant read, beautifully written and extremely powerful. There has been another book and a film about The Family and an evening was held locally with those involved in that book and the film and also a couple of young people who had been children who were members of The Family.
I do recommend Josh’s book very highly.
IN THE CLEARING by J.B. POMARE
Publisher: Hachette Australia