Review

Baggage

by Emily Barr



Emily Barr has delivered another great novel in BAGGAGE. Like
BACKPACK, her debut book, BAGGAGE is a combination mystery, love
story and travel narrative. Using her experience as a travel writer
with London's Observer and The Guardian, Barr whisks
us away this time to the Australian Outback, with all its
ubiquitous dust, oppressive heat and beer drinking Aussies.

Lina Pritchett has been on the run for ten years. Why? Well, we're
not entirely sure at first but the story unfolds at a teasing pace,
as little by little Lina's past comes to light. Settled in Craggy
Rock, Lina has a comfortable marriage to Tony, an opal miner, as
well as a delightful ten-year-old boy named Red. She teaches
elementary school, frequents the neighborhood pub, indulges in
neighborhood gossip and feels her roots spreading with ease, for
the first time in a decade.

On another continent, Larry is a second-rate reporter in search of
a blockbuster story that will help his career soar --- he will stop
at nothing to get it. This means that he'll search through
co-workers' desks when they're not looking, cheat on his
unsuspecting girlfriend, manipulate the few friends he has --- and
lie, lie, lie. He's a weasel with a mission.

The stories of Lina and Larry intersect in the person of Sophie, a
natural beauty with a sweet naiveté. Traveling in Australia,
her first trip away from England, Sophie attends a local wedding on
a whim, where she discovers her best friend since third grade,
Daisy Fraser. The trouble is that Daisy died ten years ago when she
threw herself from a bridge to escape going to jail for a horrible,
mysterious crime. Despite Lina's protestations and fake Australian
accent, Sophie knows in her heart that she has found her long-lost,
believed-to-be-dead friend. I am not ruining anything by telling
you that Sophie's instincts are correct --- Lina Pritchett is
indeed Daisy Fraser (this is revealed early on in the narrative).
Sophie returns to London and tells her boyfriend, the crooked
reporter, that she has found Daisy. Larry's plans to bring Daisy to
justice begin and his dreams of a Pulitzer Prize seem within
reach.

Needless to say, Lina Pritchett is traveling with more than her
share of baggage and the load is getting heavier by the day.
Pregnant and fearing that she will soon be ratted out by Sophie,
Lina hits the road again, relocating her entire family and her
nagging secrets. Barr impresses upon the reader every pound of
Lina's growing pregnancy, every fear of discovery, every bead of
sweat as she drives the long, hot roads of Australia searching for
sanctuary and peace. You won't be disappointed if you pick up
BAGGAGE.

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 21, 2011

Baggage
by Emily Barr

  • Publication Date: December 31, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452283825
  • ISBN-13: 9780452283824