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BOOK REVIEW: Hush, Little Bird

Nicole Trope's latest novel is a harrowing tale that will be hauntingly familiar.

By Kerre McIvor
The recent trials of much-loved entertainers on historic sex abuse charges must surely have been the catalysts for Nicole Trope’s latest novel. Her central character, Simon Winslow, is an iconic Australian personality. Happily married to a much younger wife and a grandfather twice over, Simon is nearing the end of a long and lucrative career as a television host. His doting wife Rose is more than willing to put up with his character flaws – his arrogance, faux-English accent and self-obsession – since he has given her a life she could only have dreamed of.
However, when several women come forward accusing Simon of abusing them as children, when they appeared as guests on his television show, Rose is devastated. Her nightmare is compounded when she is later found guilty of Simon’s manslaughter.
Rose is sent to a prison farm – a soft option for low-risk reoffenders – where she meets Birdy, a simple young woman serving time for assaulting her mother.
Birdy spends her days on the farm tending finches and counting the days until her young daughter comes to visit her. The anger she has felt since she was an abused and abandoned child still bubbles within her, but she knows she has to keep out of trouble if she’s ever going to be a mother to her daughter again.
When Rose turns up, however, all Birdy’s buried memories come rising to the surface. She is sick of being quiet and sick of no-one seeing her. Her fury is finally unleashed, with unexpected consequences.
In this timely novel, Birdy and Rose tell their stories in alternating chapters, although inevitably, their stories intersect. The tale explores a key issue surrounding prolific predators – how could the wife not have known? It’s also a sympathetic look at silent victims – the vulnerable and abused, who are ignored by those who could and should have helped them.

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