Jaws by Peter Benchley


I’ve read a lot of great books this summer, but it was a classic that I feel deserves acknowledgement … Peter Benchley’s first novel, JAWS.

Everyone knows the brilliant movie that was responsible for scaring generations of the ocean. However, I have recently become aware of how few people know that the novel even exists. I’m not even sure the person who wrote the blurb has even read it.

It was during a walk along Jetty road, shortly after an announcement of a shark sighting on the radio that I was passing a book sale and picked up the classic novel which, knowing its reputations I had always intended to read.

Pick up Jaws before midnight, read the first five pages, and I guarantee you’ll be putting it down breathless and stunned, as dawn is breaking the next day, reads a Daily Express quote on the back; describing this novel perfectly.

After a girl’s remains are washed ashore, chief Brody attempts to close the Amity beaches suspecting a shark attack.

Denied of the authority to do so, Brody is forced to dispute with local business owners afraid of ruining a town dependant on its tourists, and a mayor with an ulterior motive.

After a following three deaths, Brody takes it upon himself to warn beachgoers of the danger, while his wife Ellen becomes infatuated by Hooper, a fish expert called upon to assist Brody and a symbol of a life she left behind with her youth. When a dinner invitation extends into a secret love affair, Brody is left suspicious of Hooper.

Finally after a boy’s narrow escape from the shark is caught on film, Brody is authorised to close the beaches and to hire a professional shark fisherman, Quint to hunt this great white.

Brody and Hooper accompany Quint on a memorable hunt for the man-eating shark.

While Steven Spielberg adapted this story to film spectacularly, the novel is remarkably more complex, brutal, colourful, and even erotic at times.

If you have not read this incredible must-read classic, be sure to make it the next on your list.

Available from The Ravens Parlour book store, Tanunda.

JAWS, BY PETER BENCHLEY is available from The Ravens Parlour Book Store, Tanunda.


Todd Kuchel, The Barossa Mag contributor