BOOK REVIEW: The Fragments by Toni Jordan

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

INGA Karlson died in a fire in New York in the 1930s, leaving behind three things: a phenomenally successful first novel, the scorched fragments of a second book— and a mystery that has captivated generations of readers.

Nearly fifty years later, Brisbane bookseller Caddie Walker is waiting in line to see a Karlson exhibition featuring the famous fragments when she meets a charismatic older woman.

The woman quotes a phrase from the Karlson fragments that Caddie knows does not exist—and yet to Caddie, who knows Inga Karlson’s work like she knows her name, it feels genuine.

Caddie is electrified. Jolted her from her sleepy, no-worries life in torpid 1980s Brisbane, she is driven to investigate: to find the clues that will unlock the greatest literary mystery of the twentieth century

My Thoughts:

What a wonderful book this is! Toni Jordan is one of my favourite Australian authors, drawing effortlessly on multiple genres to create charming, warm-hearted and utterly compelling novels that are each distinctly different from each other.


The Fragments is part-romantic comedy, part-literary mystery, and part-historical drama, all of which add up to a fresh and beguiling story centred on the lost novel of a mysterious woman writer of the 1930s.


Inga Karlson’s first book was a literary sensation, but tragically she died in a warehouse fire which also destroyed the only known copy of her second book. All that was left was a handful of burnt scraps of paper, tantalising her heartbroken fans and creating a literary industry that kept academics busy for decades.


Nearly fifty years later, in the 1980s, the fragments of her scorched book are brought to Brisbane as part of an exhibition celebrating Inga Karlson’s life and work. Caddie, a bookseller and failed academic, waits in a queue for hours to see the exhibition – she was named after Inga Karlson’s famous heroine and has worshipped her work all her life.


She falls into conversation with an enigmatic old woman, who seems to know more about the fragments than she should. Caddie is galvanised. She must know more. So she sets out on a quest to find the old woman, which leads her straight back to her failed dissertation and the man who broke her heart.


Moving back and forwards between 1980s Brisbane and 1930s New York, this is a book full of surprises. Brilliant!

You might also like to read my review of The Whole Bright Year by Debra Oswald:

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Kate Forsyth
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