Sold is not only rich in character, but also in setting. Gullifer writes about Melbourne with the close perspective of someone who has sold property there. The tree-lined suburbs, and even its old boys clubs are all featured, as the competition for listings takes place. There are also little stories behind the book, such as the real life struggle to save the Abbotsford Convent from a high density conversion into 289 units - the kind of cramped, unsustainable housing that The Fox rightly calls 'superstition driven' on the first page of the novel. Gullifer places Dally Love squarely in the midst of that struggle, in the unpopular role of developer. It’s quite possible to read the novel without knowing about that seven year struggle between sustainable low density living and an arts-based community, and the corporate world of takeovers and profit driven housing, but knowing the history adds another layer of veracity and meaning to an already rich book.
Underneath the fun, there is a serious message about the whole seedy undercurrent beneath the dream that drives, not only real estate, but much of the corporate world. It’s about the ‘deal’ and what it takes to make it and what making it does to your sense of self. Not all of the agents are cutthroat, though most of them are, and not all of them are at the edge of a precipice, though most are moving that way. Though the villains are suitably bad and the good guys reasonably decent, there are some lovely twists along the way that throw the whole notion of truth into chaos and leave the reader, like Will, questioning every motive. Sold is a sparkling debut novel that combines ironic, sardonic humour with a hefty dose of eye-opening reality. Buying (or selling) a house will never feel the same again. The book can be found at http://www.sleeperspublishing.com/newreleases.html
By Brendan Gullifer
Paperback, 357 pages, ISBN: 9781740667340, April 2009, aud$24.95