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Glued and screwed.

It’s a term used in the construction of a coffin and quite easily be applied as a metaphor for family dynamics in Susannah Begbie’s Richell Prize winning debut novel, THE DEED.

A ridiculous will where insanity and sound judgement sit alongside each other is the trigger for a disparate set of siblings to reunite at their father’s rural property after his death. They arrive to learn that they’ve been tasked with building his coffin together in four days. If they fail, they’ll lose their inheritance. All of it.

THE DEED is fuelled by the politics and entitlement around inheritance and complicated family dynamics, three daughters and a son, and a shifty country town solicitor.

The deceased dad, Tom Edwards, was cranky how his progeny turned out, how they scattered, the legacy of the family land of no legitimate living concern. So he by-passed the big firm of big city lawyers, the marvellously monikered Mindle, Seifort & Sloane who normally handled matters for the Edwards’ estate, Ellersley, and decided to go with the local Coorong solicitor, Vince Barton, to draw up a will that was crazily conditional. To Tom’s mind, if his progeny couldn’t honour their heritage, they deserved to see it handed over to a foreigner.

How the siblings rally after initially railing against the seemingly outrageous caveat imposed on their inheritance is the spine of the story and it is splendidly told through a rich layering of characterisation. Each of the sisters and the one brother are wonderfully defined, each with their peccadilloes and idiosyncrasies, each with their individual memories of their parents and childhood.

THE DEED marks the 10th edition of Hachette’s Richell Prize, which was established in memory of Hachette’s late CEO Matt Richell, who died suddenly in 2014. The prize was designed to foster emerging writers in Australia’s writing scene, and has been hugely successful, with twelve authors contracted or published, which now includes Susannah Begbie who won the prize with her manuscript for The Deed.

Funny, heartfelt and unforgettable, THE DEED is indeed worth a read.

THE DEED by Susannah Begbie is published by Hachette Australia.



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