Congratulations to Madeline Miller who has won the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 for The Song of Achilles

The Orange Prize for Fiction Winner 2012

From the Orange Prize website: 19.15pm, London, 30 May 2012 — American author Madeline Miller has won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction with her debut novel The Song of Achilles (Bloomsbury).

2012 marks the seventeenth year of the Orange Prize, which celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.

At an awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London – hosted by Orange Prize for Fiction Co-Founder and Honorary Director, Kate Mosse – the 2012 Chair of Judges, Joanna Trollope, presented the author with the £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine. Both are anonymously endowed.

Joanna Trollope, Chair of Judges, said: “This is a more than worthy winner — original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her.”

The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate and promote fiction written by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible. The Orange Prize is awarded to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman.

From the Guardian:

There seems something almost culturally inevitable about the fact that Madeline Miller, a Massachusetts teacher of Latin and Greek, has won the Orange prize with her first novel, The Song of Achilles. The book, which weaves a compelling story about Patroclus, a crucial yet fleetingly described character in Homer’s Iliad, joins a throng of recent works, all indebted to the epic poem, that have captured the imagination of the public and critics alike. Others include David Malouf’s melancholic novel Ransom, Alice Oswald’s diamond-cut poem Memorial, and Caroline Alexander’s admired non-fiction work The War That Killed Achilles.

Why the interest? We live in an age of cultural conflict, of wars pitching the east against the west. The Iliad – a foundational text of European literature – is still the greatest of all war poems, ready to be read afresh, and from a different perspective, by each generation. Alexander the Great, no peacenik, slept with a copy under his pillow. Today’s Iliad readers are more likely to draw from it a sense of the pity, grief, and waste of war.

Miller asks: who was Patroclus? Where did he come from? What was his experience of the war? What was the love between Achilles and Patroclus that caused Achilles to feel such overwhelming lust for revenge, such pounding grief, when his companion fell? In spinning her tale of boyhood, friendship and sexual passion – all played out against an exquisitely realised vision of the Greek landscape – Miller never drops a note. You don’t need to have read the Iliad to enjoy this novel, but chances are you’ll want to pick up Homer when you’ve finished. Read more…

The Song of Achilles

by Madeline Miller

A breathtakingly original rendering of the Trojan War – a devastating love story and a tale of gods and kings, immortal fame and the human heart

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not – strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess – and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship.

As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals. Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

About the Author

Madeline Miller has a BA and MA from Brown University in Latin and Ancient Greek, and has been teaching both for the past nine years. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specialising in adapting classical tales to a modern audience. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.

Click here to read more…

Click here to read an extract

Madeline has answered the Booktopia Book Guru’s Ten Terrifying Questions, click here

Click here to buy The Song of Achilles from Booktopia, Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


Esi Edugyan – Half Blood Blues

This is a new part of an old story: 1930s Berlin, the threat of imprisonment and the powerful desire to make something beautiful despite the horror.

Chip told us not to go out. Said, don’t you boys tempt the devil. But it been one brawl of a night, I tell you.

The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again.

He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.

Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero’s bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin. Persuaded by his old friend Chip, Sid discovers there’s more to the journey than he thought when Chip shares a mysterious letter, bringing to the surface secrets buried since Hiero’s fate was settled. In “Half Blood Blues”, Esi Edugyan weaves the horror of betrayal, the burden of loyalty and the possibility that, if you don’t tell your story, someone else might tell it for you.

And they just might tell it wrong…

Click here to read more…

Click here to order your copy of Half Blood Blues

Anne Enright – The Forgotten Waltz

The Forgotten Waltz is a memory of desire: a recollection of the bewildering speed of attraction, the irreparable slip into longing. In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, in the winter of 2009,it has snowed. Gina Moynihan, girl about town, recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for ‘the love of her life’, Seán Vallely. As the city outside comes to a halt, Gina remembers the days of their affair in one hotel room or another: long afternoons made blank by bliss and denial.

Now, as the silent streets and the stillness and vertigo of the falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, Gina waits the arrival on her doorstep of Seán’s fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie – the complication, and gravity, of this second life.

Click here to read more…

Click here to order your copy of The Forgotten Waltz

Georgina Harding – Painter of Silence

When she leaves the ward she feels the whiteness of the room still inside her, as if she is bleached out inside. It is the shock, she tells herself. She feels the whiteness like a dam holding back all the coloured flood of memory.

1948. A man is found on the steps of the hospital in Iasi, Romania. Wet with morning dew, he is as frail as a fallen bird and utters no words. It is days before anyone realises that he is deaf and mute. The ward sister, Adriana, whose son still has not returned from the war in Russia, sits at the man’s bedside and whispers to him, keeping herself company. But it is a young nurse called Safta who thinks to bring paper and pencils with which he might draw. Slowly, painstakingly, memories appear on the page: a hillside, a stable, a racing car, a grand house as it was before everything changed for ever.

The man is Augustin, the son of a cook at the manor house in Dumbraveni where Safta was the privileged daughter. Born six months apart, they had a connection that bypassed words, but while Augustin’s world stayed the same size Safta’s expanded to embrace languages, society, the breathless possibility of Paris. And love, one dappled summer’s day, in the form of a fleeting young man in a green Lagonda.

Pictures are always in the present. But a war has raged and ebbed since those days, leaving in its wake a new, Communist regime. Walls have ears, words and images are more dangerous than ever before, and even neighbours with old-world mirrors and samovars cannot be trusted.

Click here to read more…

Click here to order your copy of Painter of Silence

Cynthia Ozick – Foreign Bodies

The collapse of her brief marriage has stalled Bea Nightingale’s life, leaving her middle-aged and alone, teaching in an impoverished borough of 1950s New York. A plea from her estranged brother gives Bea the excuse to escape lassitude by leaving for Paris to retrieve a nephew she barely knows; but the siren call of Europe threatens to deafen Bea to the dangers of entangling herself in the lives of her brother’s family.

Travelling from America to France, Bea leaves the stigma of divorce on the far side of the Atlantic; newly liberated, she chooses to defend her nephew and his girlfriend Lili by waging a war of letters on the brother she has promised to help. But Bea’s generosity is a mixed blessing: those she tries to help seem to be harmed, and as Bea’s family unravel from around her, she finds herself once again drawn to the husband she thought she had left in the past…

Click here to read more…

Click here to order your copy of Foreign Bodies

Ann Patchett – State of Wonder

There were people on the banks of the river.

Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson’s work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns.

Now Marina Singh, Anders’s colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. Compelled by the pleas of Anders’s wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend’s steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest.

What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, where the muddy waters and susurrating grasses hide countless unknown perils and temptations, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination. Marina is no longer the student, but only time will tell if she has learnt enough.

Click here to read more…

Click here to order your copy of State of Wonder

12th June, 2012 – Lauren Kate Vs. Richelle Mead : A One-Off YA Heavy-Weight Bout

This is the biggest event of the YA year. The two toughest competitors in the YA world will come head to head in a one-off heavy-weight bout on 12th June, 2012. In red corner, Lauren Kate, author of The Fallen Series, one of the highest selling YA series ever, the darling of Random House Australia, and in the white corner, Richelle Mead, author of The Vampire Academy novels, the biggest thing in Vampires since Twilight, Penguin Australia’s golden girl.

Each come to the ring with a new book. Lauren Kate is championing Rapture, fhe fourth Book in the Fallen Series while Richelle Mead comes to the fight with The Golden Lily, the second book in her Bloodlines Series. The fans of both books are already buying up seats. Pre-orders for both books have gone completely crazy.

Luck are those who go to the match with a love for both competitors. They are sure come come out with a win and a smile.

A Fallen Novel
by Lauren Kate

Fans of Lauren Kate’s Fallen Series have been becoming steadily more desperate as the release date of the fourth book in the series, Rapture approaches. Talking about her fans, there is a good chance that you are one of them, she has 160,000 fans on the Official Australian page for Fallen. Who knows how many worldwide? I can’t count that high.

If you’ve read this far you probably already know everything there is to know about Rapture, but are reading here in the desperate hope I will let some tiny piece of ‘never before heard’ information slip. But I can’t tell you anything new, at all. Apart from this – Booktopia is accepting pre-orders now. Here’s the blurb…

The sky is dark with wings. . . .

In Rapture, the highly anticipated fourth and final novel in the Fallen series, Luce and Daniel are together. . . but for how long?

Can history be rewritten?

Or are some punishments eternal?

Click here to order Rapture
Click here for The Fallen Series

A Bloodlines Novel
by Richelle Mead

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?

Click here to read an extract from this book.

Click here to order The Golden Lily
Click here for The Bloodlines Series

WIN with Broken by Elizabeth Pulford

Walker Books Australia is so excited about Broken they have put together a prize pack worth $200 to ensure they have your full attention. I took Broken home and gave it to my tame teen reader who read it in a couple of nights. She absolutely loved it. I tried to get her to do a review for me but she gave me that look, you know the look, and went off to read another book.

So how do you win this amazing book prize pack?

Order a copy of BROKEN before June 30, 2012 to go in the draw.  Thanks Walker Books Australia!

Prize includes:
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Rosie Black Chronicles: Genisis by Lara Morgan, The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Fury by Shirley Marr, Pan’s Whisper by Sue Lawson, The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones, Stork by Wendy Delsol, Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Read Elizabeth Pulford’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions

Broken– Available 1.06.12

Critically injured in a motorbike accident, Zara Wilson lies in a coma. She is caught between many worlds: the world of her hospital room and anxious family, and that of her memories and a dream-like fantasy where she searches for her brother Jem. Jem proves elusive but Zara’s adventures in her subconscious unlock dark secrets of a troubled childhood. Zara must face up to her past in order to accept her future.

A novel that blends, mystery, family life and the subconcious into an interesting story.

Click here to order Broken from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Click here to order Broken from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Lars Kepler, author of The Nightmare and the Hypnotist, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Lars Kepler

author of The Nightmare and The Hypnotist

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril.

Alexander: I was born and raised in Stockholm, débuted as a literary writer when I was twenty years old and have now written nine novels, more than twenty plays for the theatre and one libretto for the opera.

Alexandra: I was born in the south of Sweden, I used to be an actress and then my interest in writing took over. I worked as a critic, wrote a dissertation on a modernist poet and wrote three historical novels.

We met in 1992 and now we have three children and one pseudonym. Since Lars Kepler was born in 2009 we have had the pleasure of writing crime fiction and only crime fiction.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Alexandra: actress, actress, writer.

Alexander: An explorer of wild animals (Amazonas and Australia were my specialties), a writer and a writer … because I really love to explore new worlds.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Alexandra: I was totally sure that I would be an actress and remain acting all my life.

Alexander: That money and possessions didn’t matter (I always gave away my belongings to friends and acquaintances). Now, with three children, I know it’s a bit more complicated.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Alexandra: I was strongly affected by the painting “The Kiss of Judas” by Caravaggio. And I listened a lot to Bob Dylan in my youth. For a book, it’s got to be The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.

Alexander: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The Cello Suites by Bach (so wonderful). “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” – I was only twelve when I happened to see it and I had a lot of nightmares after that (maybe that’s why I prefer thrillers and can’t stand cruel horror and splatter).

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Alexandra: It is simply a need, it makes me feel alive and satisfied.

Alexander: It suits my temperament very well, I have done it my whole adult life and it’s still a joyride (even more nowadays), it’s like being inside and yet controlling a universe at the same time.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

With The Nightmare we wanted to write a really fast-paced thriller. For us it is important to find a core in our stories that attracts us, makes our hearts beat faster, a mystery that we need to know more about.

The Nightmare begins with two strange deaths that do not appear to have any connection. The General Director of a Swedish weapons committee is found hanged in his apartment. The room is unfurnished. There is nothing to climb on. That same night, the body of a woman is discovered on an abandoned boat in the Stockholm archipelago. The autopsy reveals that her lungs are filled with brackish water yet she has drowned on a boat that is still afloat. Our protagonist Detective Inspector Joona Linna is the only one who can connect the deaths. The Nightmare is about highly dangerous contracts that you should not sign, contracts that cannot be broken even by death. Those who want to break the contract must reap their worst nightmare.

Click here to order The Nightmare from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

The feeling of having experienced something exciting, and hopefully they also have something to think about, concerning the human nature and the societies that we create.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Alexandra: My husband. His talent, discipline and will to learn more about everything.

Alexander: Ha ha, well … my wife, of course, because of her capability to bring words to life.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Only to be the best crime fiction writer ever.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

There’s no way to write except to keep on writing. Be true to your own fears. Think big and don’t ever give up.

Alexander and Alexandra, thank you for playing.

Click here to order The Nightmare from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Here’s what the publisher has to say about The Nightmare:

On a summer night the dead body of a woman is found on board an abandoned pleasure boat drifting around in the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, but there are no traces of this water on her clothes or other parts of her body.

Detective Inspector Joona Linna takes up the case. Forensics state that it was a simple drowning, that she must have been pulled aboard the boat, which explains the lack of brackish water. But Joona knows better and suspects something much more sinister.

The next day a man is found dead in his state apartment in Stockholm. The man is hanging in a noose from the lamp-hook in the ceiling. How did it happen? The room has a high ceiling with no furniture, absolutely nothing to climb on. Nevertheless Linna is convinced that it is suicide. Of course he is right. The man has committed suicide, but this fact doesn’t close the case. It is only a prelude to a dizzyingly intense and dangerous course of events.

There are certain agreements which cannot be broken off, not even if you are dead…

About the Author

Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril & Alexander Ahndoril, both critically-acclaimed writers under their own names. Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril’s first novel Stjarneborg (Castle of Stars) has been translated in several languages while Alexander Ahndoril’s novel, The Director, about Ingmar Bergman, was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. They live in Sweden. The Nightmare is the second in a series featuring Detective Inspector Joona Linna. The first novel in the series, The Hypnotist, has sold over half a million copies in Sweden and has been a bestseller wherever it has been published to date.

REVIEW: Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady (Guest Blogger: Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling)

In Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady, Kate Summerscale casts a spotlight on a little known chapter in history. This is a very thoroughly researched case study detailing the true story of an unhappily married woman in Victorian Society.  In this, the age of Cougar TownSex and the City and Desperate Housewives, when women are applauded for chasing younger men and practically expected to experience dissatisfaction in their marriage, the idea of a woman keeping a diary of her extra martial affairs is not really very shocking. In fact, it sounds like the plot to the next Katherine Heigl movie.

In 1850s England, however, such an idea was enough to stop the press. Although a woman sat on the throne, this was an age in which woman did not yet have the right to vote. As Kate Summerscale’s research shows us, this was also an age in which any woman who was known to desire a man she was not married to was deemed to be suffering from sexual mania, in which PMS was actually considered to be a mental disorder that might land a woman in an asylum. Most of all, it was an age in which a lady’s husband was her lord and master.

Marriage, in the words of Queen Victoria herself, can be “a very doubtful happiness”. Still, in Victorian England, divorce was very rare. Not only did the social stigma of a failed marriage make divorce virtually unthinkable, most people simply couldn’t afford to get divorced. Divorce was such a lengthy and expensive process that it simply wasn’t an option outside of the aristocracy, who were ironically less inclined to go through the scandal of a divorce than unhappily married people of the lower classes. In the 1850s new laws were passed in order to make divorce cheaper and therefore more accessible to the middle class.

The first half of Summerscale’s book outlines the true story of Isabella Robinson, a women in her early thirties who had just entered into her second marriage. Like most marriages of the time, it was a marriage of convenience. Isabella’s husband could provide her with financial security, but very little else. Being an intelligent and passionate woman at her sexual peak, Isabella (trail blazing for generations of “cougars” to follow) soon finds herself lusting after a young man ten years her junior. Her obsession with him begins to rule her life and she pours all her repressed passion and frustrated sexual energy into her diary. When her husband finds her diary, he announces his intention to divorce her.

The second half of the book follows the explosive divorce trial. The case rests on proving whether or not Isabella’s diary is true. If it was true then she cheated on her husband and he can therefore divorce her on the grounds of adultery. If it’s not true then (according to Victorian society) she is obviously a madwoman suffering  from a sexual mania such as erotomania or nyphomania and therefore cannot be held legally responsible for her actions.

Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady might be non-fiction but it reads very much like a novel. For those who see the words “historical non-fiction” and immediately start snoring – don’t be too hasty to judge! This is an exciting story of scandal and intrigue, as well as a riveting courtroom drama. And on top of that, it is truly a revealing snapshot of Victorian times with cameo appearances from notable historical figures such as Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens.

Summerscale’s research is impressive. She has gone to extraordinary lengths compiling letters, newspaper clippings, public records and census information in order to build a really solid social and historical framework through which to view Mrs. Robinson’s story.

Still, throughout everything, Isabella Robinson remains something of a mystery. With her original diary lost, sadly all that remains of her words are the sections that were printed in the newspapers during the divorce trial. From Summerscale’s account, Isabella emerges as a woman full of contradictions. Impulsive and creative, selfish and hysterical, in ways born ahead of her times and in others wholly a product of her times – all that can be said for certain about Isabella Robinson is that she was very unhappy in what she called “the bonds of a dreaded wedlock”.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady is that it gives readers a rare glimpse into the sheer wealth of feeling that went unspoken during this time period. Here is proof that people in Victorian times were not really all that different from people nowadays. Isabella Robinson was an emotionally intense woman who either led a very rich fantasy life, or conducted multiple extra martial affairs (it is unclear how much of her diary was true and how much was simply “make-believe”). Either way, she clearly had just as many issues going on as the average modern woman. She was simply better at hiding her issues because she lived in a society in which any kind of strong emotional display was considered “bad manners”. This was a time when one avoided airing ones dirty laundry at all costs, let alone plastering it all over Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The idea of a Victorian woman obsessing over a younger man and feverishly detailing her sexual fantasies about him in her diary is just… well it’s like imagining Queen Victoria shopping for naughty lingerie, or Charles Darwin reading dirty magazines. It’s shocking, and fascinating and strangely comforting. It’s nice to think that perhaps our ancestors weren’t quite as stuffy and dull as they appear to be in all those old back and white pictures.

Summerscale’s previous book, The Suspicions of Mr Wicher, is said to be a study of the real life detective who inspired the character of Sherlock Holmes. In this same vein, Isabella Robinson could easily be said to have inspired characters like Madame Bovary and Lady Chatterley. But the best thing about Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady is the realisation that Isabella Robinson probably wasn’t all that different from the average Victorian woman. In fact, the only real difference was that the average Victorian woman was a little more clever about hiding her diary.

Guest Reviewer: Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling

Click here to order Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace from Booktopia,
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Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale

From the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher comes a brand new true story of a Victorian scandal.

On a mild winter’s evening in 1850, Isabella Robinson set out for a party. Her carriage bumped across the wide cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town and drew up at 8 Royal Circus, a grand sandstone house lit by gas lamps. This was the home of the rich widow Lady Drysdale, a vivacious hostess whose soirees were the centre of an energetic intellectual scene.

Lady Drysdale’s guests were gathered in the high, airy drawing rooms on the first floor, the ladies in dresses of glinting silk and satin, bodices pulled tight over boned corsets; the gentlemen in tailcoats, waistcoats, neckties and pleated shirt fronts, dark narrow trousers and shining shoes. When Mrs Robinson joined the throng she was introduced to Lady Drysdale’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Edward Lane. She was at once enchanted by the handsome Mr Lane, a medical student ten years her junior. He was ‘fascinating’, she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man’s charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, which she was to find hard to shake…

A compelling story of romance and fidelity, insanity, fantasy, and the boundaries of privacy in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality, Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace brings vividly to life a complex, frustrated Victorian wife, longing for passion and learning, companionship and love.

About the Author

Kate Summerscale is the author of the number one bestselling The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama. Her first book, The Queen of Whale Cay, won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. Kate Summerscale has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London.

Click here to order Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Guest Blogger: Publisher Meredith Curnow Wishes Patrick White a Happy 100th Birthday


Patrick White was born on this day in England in 1912. He was then taken to Australia, where his father owned a sheep farm, when he was six months old. He was educated in England at Cheltenham College and King’s College, Cambridge. He settled in London, where he wrote several unpublished novels, then served in the RAF during the war. He returned to Australia after the war.
He became the most considerable figure in modern Australian literature, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. The great poet of Australian landscape, he turned its vast empty spaces into great mythic landscapes of the soul. His position as a man of letters was controversial, provoked by his acerbic, unpredictable public statements and his belief that it is eccentric individuals who offer the only hope of salvation. He died in September 1990.

Random House Australia has worked to bring Patrick White back in this his centenary year. All of his novels and his excoriating memoir Flaws in the Glass are available as eBooks and we have published new editions of a number of his novels including the film tie-in edition of The Eye of The Storm, Vintage Classics editions of The Aunt’s Story and The Tree of Man and commemorative editions of Voss and The Vivisector.

If you want to celebrate Patrick White’s centenary and start reading his books I recommend you start with The Hanging Garden.  The manuscript for this part of a novel (part one of three we think, around 45,000 words) was found amongst his papers after he died and it is such a beautiful story, simply told that it could not be left lying in a box to be examined only by silverfish and PhD students.

Happy birthday Patrick White!

Booktopia would like to thank Meredith Curnow for sharing her thoughts with the Booktopia Blog and our readers.

Meredith Curnow is the Knopf Vintage publisher at Random House Australia. This role gives her the honour and pleasure of publishing established writers of the calibre of Gail Jones, Tom Keneally, Frank Moorhouse, Roger McDonald, David Malouf and writers at an earlier stage of their career including Deborah Forster, Kate Forsyth and Jacqueline Lunn. Prior to joining Random House, Meredith was the director of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Click here to buy The Hanging Garden

Click here to see all of Patrick White’s titles

And here is the Book Guru’s review: The Hanging Garden may just change the way Patrick White is thought of by Australian readers. For many years now, the mere mention of his name has sent shivers down readers’ spines. Granted, for a small percentage of readers, these were the shivers of ecstasy but for the vast majority they were aroused by fear, dread and, for some, loathing. Australia’s only recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature has long polarised Australia’s readers. He is a writer we are told we ought to respect but as many find his prose impenetrable this imperative has more often than not borne the fruit of resentment.

The Hanging Garden is different and comes to us at the right moment. As I see it, Australian literature is enjoying a popular revival. A more accessible prose style has been embraced by many of our best writers. From Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, to Charlotte Wood’s Animal People, to Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap, we can sense a new confidence emerging. In such a climate The Hanging Garden is bound to find a receptive audience.

Begun by an ailing Patrick White back in 1981, The Hanging Garden was left unfinished at the time of his death. What we have been left with appears to have been Part One of a larger novel. Unfinished but by no means incomplete The Hanging Garden describes the experience of two refugee children brought to the relative safety of Sydney, Australia during WWII. A Greek/Australian girl, Eirene rescued from Greece during the English retreat and an English boy, Gilbert, who narrowly escaped oblivion during the London Blitz.

Told largely from Eirene’s point of view The Hanging Garden is a story of adolescent love, with all of its latent complications, its beauty and its disquiet.

Patrick White brings Gilbert and Eirene’s experiences in wartime Sydney to life with a lightness of touch which belies the depths of each word’s foundations. A great wisdom informs each scene and yet we read swiftly and eagerly. There is a startlingly raw truth to this story which conjured up in me long forgotten memories. This is great writing for our time. A book which will remind some of Sumner Locke Elliot’s Careful He Might Hear You and others of Roger McDonald’s When Colts Ran.

Moving and beautiful, The Hanging Garden is a Patrick White novel we can all read with pleasure. Five Stars.

Reviewed by John Purcell. This review was first published in Bookseller+Publisher magazine

Click here to order The Hanging Garden

Fated by Alyson Noel, best-selling author of the Immortal series

Fated– Available 1.06.12

Strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, glowing people appear from nowhere. Worried that Daire’s having a breakdown, her mother sends her to stay with the grandmother she’s never met, who lives on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico. There Daire crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes.

Her grandmother recognizes Daire’s episodes for what they are – a call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, a person who can navigate between the living and the dead. Guided by her grandmother, Daire must be quick to learn how to harness her powers, because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter, out to steal them.

Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and discover whether Dace is the guy she’s meant to be with… or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

Click here to order Fated from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Click here to see all of Alyson Noel’s books

The Immortals 6 : Everlasting

Everlasting is the sixth and final instalment of the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen have spent centuries facing down bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears – all in the hope of being together forever.

Now in Everlasting, their destiny is finally within reach.

Will they be united, or torn apart forever? Readers will finally discover the truth in this anxiously awaited conclusion!

Click here to buy Everlasting from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

The Immortals 5 : Night Star

Best friends make the worst enemies—they know all your secrets, your weaknesses, and just how to hurt you most…

After fighting for centuries to be together, Ever and Damen’s future hinges on one final showdown that will leave readers gasping for breath. Don’t miss this explosive new instalment of the number one bestselling series that’s enchanted millions across the world!

With 2 million copies of her Immortals series in print, Alyson Noel is one of the hottest paranormal teen authors writing today. Night Star continues the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. Ever and Damen must face bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears – all in the hope of being together forever.

Click here to buy Night Star from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

The Immortals 4 : Dark Flame

At the start of this mesmerizing new installment of the Immortals series, Ever is helping her friend Haven transition into life as an immortal. But with Haven drunk on her new powers and carelessly putting them all at risk, their friendship becomes more and more strained.

At the same time, Ever delves deeper into magick in order to get control over her enemy Roman and free Damen from his power. But when the spell she casts on Roman backfires, she’s bound to her deadliest enemy. Frantic to reverse the spell the moment the moon enters a new phase, she finds her efforts are fruitless – there’s a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, one that propels her toward Roman.

Desperate to break free of this terrible curse before Damen or the twins can discover what she’s done, she turns to Jude and delves deeper and deeper into dark magick, ultimately risking everything she knows and loves – including Damen.

Click here to buy Dark Flame from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

The Immortals 3 : Shadowland

At the start of this breathtaking novel, Damen and Ever travel to Summerland in search of an antidote to reverse a powerful poison. But instead of the cure they seek, they find something far more sinister: the truth about their existence and the fate lying in wait of an immortal’s soul.

Now, with Damen fighting to save them from the Shadowland, Ever turns to magick, hoping to break Damen’s curse. Along the way Ever encounters the mysterious Jude, who shared a complicated past with her in a previous life. She always thought Damen was her soulmate and her one true love… but now their love is about to be tested like never before.

Click here to buy Shadowland from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

The Immortals 2 : Blue Moon

In the second instalment, Ever can bring her family back from the dead – but only if she’s willing to sacrifice the guy she loves more than life itself.

Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him. As Ever’s powers are increasing, Damen’s are fading – stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, uncovering not only the secrets of Damen’s past – the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden – but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them – or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day…

Click here to buy Blue Moon from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

The Immortals 1 : Evermore

Seventeen-year-old Ever is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her entire family. Living with her aunt in Southern California, she’s plagued by the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her, and haunted by the ghost of her little sister.

She tries to tune everyone out, shunning her old lifestyle as the pretty, popular cheerleader, but somehow she can’t hide from Damen, the new guy at school. Stunningly handsome, clever and not a little bit intimidating, there’s something about him that doesn’t quite add up. Ever realises he’s hiding something – but nothing could prepare her for the truth…

Click here to buy Evermore from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop


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