One mistake can change a life forever.
Zoë lives a contented life in Fremantle. She works, she gardens and she loves her husband Archie and their three children. But the arrival of a new woman in her son Daniel's life unsettles her.
In Sussex, Julia is feeling nostalgic as she nurses her friend through the last stages of cancer. Her husband Tom is trying to convince her to slow down. Tom means well, but Julia fears he is pushing her into old age before she is ready. She knows she is lucky to have him. She so nearly didn't ...
These two women's lives are shaped by the choices they made back in 1968. In a time of politics and protest, consciousness raising and sexual liberation they were looking for their own happy endings. But back then Zoë and Julia couldn't begin to imagine how those decisions would send them along pathways from which there was no turning back.
a moving, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable novel
Bad Behaviour is the fifth novel by British-born Australian author, Liz Byrski. The story is told in three main narrative strands, and over two time periods, the late 1960s and the current time, beginning in 1999. In Fremantle, Western Australia, a question from Zoeâ€™s youngest daughter, Gaby causes her to reflect on her life in London in 1968. In Rye, England, Juliaâ€™s husband, Tom and her brother, Richard are working on a multi-media project focussing on 1968, causing her too, to think back to that turbulent period of their lives. And in Cottesloe, Western Australia, Justine reflects on the tumultuous changes that occurred in her life in 1968. How their lives interact, and their ultimate fates are what comprise this excellent novel.
Byrski uses her story to touch on the Stolen Generation, racism, Y2K, the connection of indigenous people to the land, forgiveness, ageism, mentors, discovering oneâ€™s talents, the importance of a sense of purpose and retirement. Byrski exposes her characters to racial discrimination, child abuse and rape, and terrorism. She involves them in Vietnam protests, demonstrations against Nuclear Weapons, the Womenâ€™s Movement, racially mixed marriages and some quite bad behaviour.
Along their journey in life, her characters are occasionally given some surprising insight and words of wisdom: â€œLosing those few people who knew you well in youth is not just painful, itâ€™s strangely disturbing; as though your youthful self might cease to exist with the death of the last remaining witnessâ€ and â€œKnowing there are people who are worse off doesnâ€™t make oneâ€™s own hurt any easierâ€ and â€œItâ€™s odd thinking of something youâ€™ve lived through as history but, of course, it isâ€ are just a few examples. Her plot is completely credible and her characters are familiar, the sorts of people one regularly encounters daily. Their dialogue is wholly natural, overheard often in cafes, shops and around the family home.
This is a moving, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable novel and readers will look forward to Byrskiâ€™s next novel, Last Chance Cafe.