Author: Fiona Higgins
Genre: Popular Fiction
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: November 2016
Synopsis: What happens when six pampered Westerners on a spiritual retreat in Bali end up fighting for their lives? A gripping novel from the bestselling author of The Mothers’ Group.
A breathtaking new novel from the bestselling author of The Mothers’ Group and Wife on the Run.
Six strangers from across the world meet on the tropical island of Bali to attend a course designed to help them face their fears. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their fears – which range from flying, public speaking and heights, through to intimacy, failure and death.
Friendships and even romance blossom as the participants are put through a series of challenges, which are unusual, confronting and sometimes hilarious. A week of fun in the sun suddenly turns into something far more serious, however, when the unthinkable happens – a tragic disaster that puts the group in deadly danger, testing the individual courage of every member.
Shocking, powerful and utterly gripping, Fearless takes you to the edge and makes you look down.
Fearless begins with an introduction to each character as they arrive at the retreat in Ubud, aptly named Fearless, to combat the fears that they hold within themselves. Janelle, Cara, the Australians, Annie, an American, Remy from France, Lorenzo from Italy and Henry from London- they each have fears, some that they know of, some that they cannot vocalise and some that are so deep down, that they cannot be spoken, or cannot permeate the conscious mind from the subconscious. Under the instruction of a Dutchman named Pak Tony, and escorted around by a Balinese, Pak Ketut, the six begin to explore their fears in a variety of ways. Throughout the book, Indonesian is used – it acted as a refresher course in Indonesian.
The story was not as simple as confronting known fears or discovering the subconscious fears. It incorporated the tensions between the Balinese and Javanese that work there together, culture shock at seeing things one isn’t accustomed to seeing, or expects to see out in the open, and the idea of simplicity making one happy, an idea that comes through Pak Ketut. He is charming and respectful, and caring.
As the story develops, relationships blossom between the characters, and some are very jarring and confrontational, such as Annie. The idea of stereotypes of nationalities is floated – and in a way, these characters break them, and sometimes show that these stereotypes do exist, but that it is not everyone of that nationality.
The climatic disaster at a local bird sanctuary brings the group together. They forget what they came here for; their true fears are revealed. They are put in a position where silly conflicts must be forgotten in order to overcome a life or death ordeal.
An intriguing read, that explores a variety of relationships and characters. It is about life and the challenges it presents and the bravery that can be shown in the face of dire adversity.