Victoria Hannan

Hachette Australia
27 September 2023


Victoria Hannan

A year ago the house had been full of life, of noise, of love. Now there were long stretches of silence that settled between them like a fog so dense it made it hard to see a way out, made it hard for them to see each other . . . He was losing sight of the only thing he'd ever truly been certain about.

Some moments change everything. For five friends, what should have been a birthday to remember will instead cleave a line between before and after. From then on, the shockwaves of guilt, sorrow and disbelief will colour every day, every interaction, every possibility. Each will struggle. Each will ask why. Secrets will be kept. Lies will be told. Relationships reassessed. Each friend will be forever changed. And the question all of them will be forced to ask is: can they ever find a way to live without what was lost?

A raw, powerful novel from the prize-winning author of Kokomo that exposes the ripple effect of grief. With profound insight and a tender heart, Marshmallow shows how quickly the life you thought you had can be shattered forever.


Victoria Hannan is a beautiful writer. Her prose is clean and the world she creates is incredibly clear. Hannan is skilled at dropping you into the middle of a situation and very quickly orientating you with the details: the people, the place and the circumstances.

The ‘situation’ in Marshmallow is a sad and slightly frantic one. We are introduced to the lives of five very close, but very different friends, who are still reeling a year on from a horrible accident. Told from the five different viewpoints, with less weight on the grieving mother (yes, if you have a small child be prepared to read about your worst fear), the story skips between the past and the present. What happened a year ago is slowly revealed, as is just how much each of the friends has changed since the tragic death. They are shadows of their former selves, each obsessing, spiralling and sadly not communicating. Their relationships are suffering, some of their jobs are suffering and, most of all, they are suffering. As the anniversary day looms, things come to a head, emotions spill over, fists fly, drinks are drunk and gardens ruined. Though the novel is steeped in sadness and the ever-present guilty feelings of ‘if only’, this is also a book full of life, deep friendship and, ultimately, hope. We can sometimes go through the worst and still come out the other side, perhaps not the same or entirely whole, but still, we can survive.

Hannan writes quiet sadness so well; if you haven’t read her debut Kokomo yet, please do. It is some kind of magic that she manages to pull us willingly through the hardest of situations. I didn’t want to stop reading this book. In fact, I was so greedy to get back to it that I took the tram a number of times instead of cycling to work.

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