Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on Careless.
Robertsonís thoughtful treatise on the nature of death and loss begins with a shocking event: a frustrated, angry father in Australia takes out his rage on a group of innocent children and their two adult caretakers in a play area, driving his vehicle straight into the helpless victims, including his own twin sons.
Eight-year-old Pearl and her brother, five-year-old Riley, have left the house to escape their motherís chronic discontent, the presence of the children ratcheting up the tension in the fatherless home in a shabby area of the city. With Pearl acting as caretaker, brother and sister join the others in activities provided by the counselors, Pearl content with her drawings as Riley runs freely with the other boys.
By chance, Pearl is in the womenís truck examining a sparkling crystal, entranced by the colors refracted through the glass. Her sense of danger finely tuned, Pearl escapes the fatherís notice as she falls to the floor of the truck to avoid detection. In the silent aftermath, all but Pearl are dead.
This is the first layer of a patterned tapestry, a novel of interwoven lives, all of them peripherally yet poignantly connected. Unknown to Pearl and her mother, Lily, a sculptor has had his first brush with the intimacy of death, instinctively casting the form of a young woman who dies of a drug overdose near his studio. Adam Loganís work is an instant success, but it has given him a taste for more of deathís accoutrements, believing he will be inspired by those last charged moments of life.
In a quiet, elegant home, Sonia, the widow of a talented craftsman whose inspired furniture has been the focus of important collectors, trudges through the lonely days since her husbandís death. She has never really taken to Australia, content to flow in her husbandís genial wake, confronted now with long, silent hours, release found only at night with the aid of sleeping pills.
Soon Sonia will succumb to an entreaty by a young woman organizing a retrospective of Pieterís work. Sonia will allow Adam Logan, the sculptor fascinated with death, to use Pieterís workshop, establishing a tentative link with the outside world. This very same Adam, at a meeting to bestow a commission for a memorial for the children slaughtered by the angry father, will notice Lily and Pearl in the audience. The girl is watchful, unused to days without Riley, Lily detached and subdued, uneasy in the role of grieving mother.
Lily remains a cipher, a careless mother whose pervasive neediness blinds her to any but her own needs. A natural predator, Adam gravitates to Lilyís broken beauty and unstable charms. The outermost edges of their lives are woven together, Pearl, Lily, Adam and Sonia locked in a tale of brokenness, loss and the slow healing that remains after deathís intransigence.