9 January 2024

Review: BRUNY, Heather Rose

  • this edition from my local library
  • first published 2019, Allen & Unwin
  • ISBN 978-1-76087-516-9
  • 406 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

Why is a massive bridge being built to connect the sleepy island of Bruny with the mainland of Tasmania? And why have terrorists blown it up?

When the Bruny bridge is bombed, UN troubleshooter Astrid Coleman agrees to return home to help her brother before an upcoming election. But this is no simple task. Her brother and sister are on either side of politics, the community is full of conspiracy theories, her mother is fading and her father is quoting Shakespeare. Only on Bruny does the world seem sane. Until Astrid discovers how far the government is willing to go.

Bruny is a searing, subversive novel about family, love, loyalty and the new world order. It is a gripping thriller with a jaw-dropping twist, a love story, a cry from the heart and a fiercely entertaining and crucial work of imagination that asks the burning question: what would you do to protect the place you love? 

My Take

Astrid Coleman's twin JC is the Liberal Premier of Tasmania, coming up to an election in less than 6 months. Their old sister is the leader of the Labor opposition. The focus of JC's activity has been a huge bridge to connect mainland Tasmania to the island of Bruny. But now someone has bombed the nearly completed bridge. JC asks Astrid to come home. He wants her to manage public relations while he gets the re-building of the bridge agreed to. Initially she refuses but then gets an instruction from her bosses to go.

People find it very difficult to understand why the bridge is being built. It has Federal Government backing, and then JC announces that he has secured a workforce of about 300 Chinese workers to be available for the re-build immediately, and Astrid wonders what the Chinese are getting out of the deal.

This is a thought provoking novel in many ways. Astrid's parents are suffering from dementia and final-stage cancer and this adds another dimension to the story.

Rose has some interesting comments on Australian attitudes.


  • Shortlisted, Best Fiction, Indie Book Awards, 2020, AU
  • Longlisted, Best Designed Commercial Fiction Cover, Australian Book Design Awards, 2020, AU
  • Winner, General Fiction Book of the Year, ABIA Awards, 2020, AU
  • Shortlisted, Adult Fiction Book of the Year, ABA Booksellers' Choice Awards, 2020, AU
  • Shortlisted, Best Crime Fiction, Davitt Awards, 2020, AU
  • Longlisted, Nib Literary Award, 2020, AU

My rating: 4.8

About the author 

Heather Rose is the Australian author of eight novels. Her seventh novel The Museum of Modern Love won the 2017 Stella Prize. It also won the 2017 Christina Stead Prize and the 2017 Margaret Scott Prize. It has been published internationally and translated into numerous languages. Both The Museum of Modern Love and The Butterfly Man were longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. The Butterfly Man won the Davitt Award in 2006, and in 2007 The River Wife won the international Varuna Eleanor Dark Fellowship. Heather writes with Danielle Wood under the pen-name Angelica Banks and their Tuesday McGillycuddy children's series has twice been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards for best children's fantasy. Angelica Banks is also published internationally. Heather lives by the sea in Tasmania.

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