Lifting follows Amy, a store detective working at a famous historic department store in the last few weeks that it is open before closing for good. The store is called ‘Cutty’s, but it is difficult not to replace that with ‘Kirkcaldie and Stains’ in your head. The setting is so unabashedly Wellington, and as a person suddenly surprised to discover she has lived quarter of her life there, I enjoyed the very present Wellington setting.
Lifting is a character study of Amy, with a plot that moves you towards an ominously shadowed ending. Amy is introduced as a busy working parent – balancing a baby, finances and work with her husband, a supportive but not robust mother and a new challenge – looming unemployment as the store is about to close. Amy is a store detective, and is very good at her job – how did she get the skill set to do this? Why is she being interviewed by the police?
Past and present are all mixed together as Lifting is told from Amy’s perspective – uncensored and with her whole life narrative available at any one time to inform the story. I found Amy a very honest character, without the superficial heightened self-perspective given to many characters in books. Amy is Amy, she makes no great discoveries about herself – but she is very interesting and approachable. Definitely one of the best written characters I’ve read in quite a while.
The slow deconstruction of Cutty’s is mirrored with the deconstruction of Amy – so much time is given to her description, and thoughts. While there is a sense of foreboding as the book draws to a close, the plot is not allowed to take over the exploration of Amy. It was a very compelling read.
Reviewed by Emma Rutherford
by Damien Wilkins
Published by Victoria University Press