BREAKING NEWS: 2015 Miles Franklin Shortlist Announced

Congratulations to the incredible Australian writers on this year’s Miles Franklin shortlist! It feels distinctly like a changing of the guard in Australian literature.

Don’t miss the chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself…


9781926428611Golden Boys

by Sonya Hartnett

Sonya Hartnett’s third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia’s finest writers.

Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to. But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.

0000002793About the Author

Sonya Hartnett’s work has won numerous Australian and international literary prizes and has been published around the world. Uniquely, she is acclaimed for her stories for adults, young adults and children. Her accolades include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Of A Boy), The Age Book of the Year (Of A Boy), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (Thursday’s Child), the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for both Older and Younger Readers (Forest, The Silver Donkey, The Ghost’s Child, The Midnight Zoo and The Children of the King), the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Surrender), shortlistings for the Miles Franklin Award (for both Of a Boy and Butterfly) and the CILP Carnegie Medal (The Midnight Zoo). Hartnett is also the first Australian recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (2008).

Grab a copy of Golden Boys here


9781743319598The Eye of the Sheep

by Sofie Laguna

Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know.

Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She more…

1_LagunaSophia1About the Author

Sofie Laguna originally studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright. Her books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was also published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sofie has written the screenplay for the film of One Foot Wrong, scheduled for pre-production in 2014.

Grab a copy of The Eye of the Sheep here


9781741666441The Golden Age

by Joan London

This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia’s most loved novelists.

He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.

It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a more…

London, JoanAbout the Author

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.

Grab a copy of The Golden Age here


9781760113117After Darkness

by Christine Piper

It is early 1942 and Australia is in the midst of war.

While working at a Japanese hospital in the pearling port of Broome, Dr Ibaraki is arrested as an enemy alien and sent to Loveday internment camp in a remote corner of South Australia. There, he learns to live among a group of men who are divided by culture and allegiance. As tensions at the isolated camp escalate, the doctor’s long- held beliefs are thrown into question and he is forced to confront his dark past: the promise he made in Japan and its devastating consequences.

0_piper_christine_smlAbout the Author

Christine Piper’s short fiction has been published in Seizure, SWAMP and Things That Are Found In Trees and Other Stories. She was the 2013 Alice Hayes writing fellow at Ragdale in the United States. Christine has studied creative writing at Macquarie University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Technology, Sydney, where she wrote a version of this novel as part of her doctoral degree. She has also worked as a magazine editor and writer for more than a decade. Both in South Korea in 1979 to an Australian father and a Japanese mother, Christine moved to Australia when she was one. She has previously taught English and studied Japanese in Japan, and currently lives in New York with her husband. Christine is also the 2014 recipient of the ABR Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. The winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Prize 2014. After Darkness is Christine Piper’s first novel. She was also shortlisted for the Readings New Australian Writing Award 2014.

Grab a copy of After Darkness here


9781922147325Tree Palace

by Craig Sherborne

They tried Mansfield but it was freezing and snowed and people like them don’t fit in because they don’t look prosperous. One time near Yellingbo they found a church no one prayed in and they lived there and for three weeks had stained glass for windows…They got chased out and went to Shepparton but Shane had a run-in and police said move.

Shane, Moira and Midge, along with young Zara and Rory, are ‘trants’—itinerants roaming the plains north-west of Melbourne in search of disused houses to sleep in, or to strip of heritage fittings when funds are low. When they find their Tree Palace outside Barleyville, things are looking up. At last, a place in which to settle down.

But Zara, fifteen, is pregnant and doesn’t want a child. She’d more…

About the AuthorCraigSherborne

Craig Sherborne’s memoir Hoi Polloi (2005) was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. The follow-up, Muck (2007), won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Non-fiction. Craig’s first novel, The Amateur Science of Love, won the Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Best Writing Award, and was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and a NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Craig has also written two volumes of poetry, Bullion (1995) and Necessary Evil (2005), and a verse drama, Look at Everything Twice for Me (1999). His writing has appeared in most of Australia’s literary journals and anthologies. He lives in Melbourne.

Grab a copy of Tree Palace here


Don’t Miss Little Fictions at The Sydney Writers’ Festival

One of the highlights of this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival is Little Fictions, an evening of lively performances of long and short stories from Spineless Wonders authors.

Featuring work by Ryan O’Neill, Claire Aman and Julie Koh, Little Fictions is a platform for Australian writers to have their work read by professional actors, and for the public to indulge in the simple pleasure of being read to.

In the style of New York’s Selected Shorts, this event was born out of an ardent desire to bring together people who love literature.

Festival_960x295

Julie Koh (Sydney): ‘The Trading Floor in Heaven’ is a story from my capsule collection, Capital Misfits. It’s a wild piece of fiction about dead people trading their karma. I’m excited that it’s going to be performed at Little Fictions – a rare opportunity to see it connect with an audience in real time.’

Ryan O’Neill (Newcastle): I love the thought of one of my short stories being performed in front of a live audience, especially “My English Homework” which experiments with language and form. Seeing how such a story is translated to the spoken word is fascinating.

Ben Brooker (Adelaide): I’m delighted that the very talented Alex Williams will be giving voice to my story ‘Awake’ at Little Fictions. I don’t often write in the present tense but ‘Awake’ is an exception, an attempt to lend a frightening scenario added layers of immediacy and uncertainty. For this reason, I think the story will benefit hugely from being read aloud. As someone who has also written for the stage, I know well the power of the performed word in engaging, moving, and confronting audiences. My only regret is that I cannot be there!

Claire Aman (Grafton) : Writers can be introverts – I am anyway – and if I have to read my own work aloud I feel embarrassed. So I hang my head and mumble and rush.  Having an actor read my work with a flourish is so good! Stories should be told aloud. That’s how it starts for readers, when we’re small.  I want people to hear ‘Those Gauls Must be Crazy’. I want you to imagine your blue-spangled tights, and the stolen dog you are tugging along on a dressing-gown cord, a surprise gift at a wedding to which you hadn’t been invited.

Monday, May 18 2015 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Tickets at the door: $10
Knox St Bar, 21 Shepherd Street, Chippendale

Drum roll…. We’re announcing the winners of our April Competitions!

In April we had a myriad of prizes and promotions for you to sink your teeth into.

Let’s wrap a few up and announce the winners of these great prizes, shall we?


Dennis-Jones-Competition-616x150NewsletterBanner-v3

All you had to do to enter was order The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song by April 30th!

the-anzacs-100-years-on-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song

by Ted Egan

The Anzacs 100 Years On: In Story and Song is a unique contribution to the commemoration of the centenary of the Anzacs. Ted Egan weaves personal stories and songs into a highly readable history of the Anzacs and the two nations, with amusing anecdotes and tales of great courage and ingenuity serving to leaven somewhat the brutal truth exposed, of a tragic and senseless war.

The soldiers, nurses, politicians, wives, and the mothers who lost their sons, or welcomed them home severely damaged, all feature in this book and its songs.

Egan’s stories and poignant songs infuse the facts with the more…

…and the winner is:

P.Hawkins, Exeter, TAS

Grab a copy of The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song here


Bolinda-Anzac-Day-Collection-Rotating-Homepage-Banner

All you had to do to enter was buy anything in our Bolinda Anzac Day collection by April 30th!

1914 : The Year the World Ended – Re Issue

1914-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Author: Paul Ham
Read by: Robert Meldrum

Few years can justly be said to have transformed the earth: 1914 did.

In July that year, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Britain and France were poised to plunge the world into a war that would kill or wound 37 million people, tear down the fabric of society, uproot ancient political systems and set the course for the bloodiest century in human history.

In the longer run, the events of 1914 set the world on the path toward the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of more…

…and the winner is:

A.Poad, Northampton, WA

Check out our Bolinda Anzac Day collection here


9781921383595- Sujet-Saenkham- Rotating-Homepage-Banner

To celebrate the release of Spice I Am, a book of recipes from Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham, we gave customers the chance to win a prize, worth $255!

The pack includes to dinner for two at any of Sydney’s Spice I Am restaurants, valued at $150 and the opportunity to attend a Spice I Am cooking class, valued at $105.

spice-i-am

Spice I Am

by Sujet Saenkham

In this much anticipated cookbook Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham shares his family recipes for the fresh flavours of regional Thai cooking so you can enjoy authentic Thai food at home.

Leave the Thai takeaway menus in your kitchen drawer, as you learn how to make restaurant favourites such as Sujet’s signature stir-fried crispy pork belly with basil, roasted red duck curry with eggplant, tomato and pineapple and crispy prawn and lemongrass salad, as well as traditional classics like pad Thai, fishcakes and a massaman beef curry from scratch. Throughout, Sujet offers practical advice on finding the ingredients and mastering the cooking techniques you need to create your own Thai feasts at home.

…and the winner is:

P.Chen Matraville, NSW

Check out Spice I Am here


Congratulations to the winners!

Missed out on the prize? Hey, turn that frown upside up, we’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited editions signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!

Head to our Promotions and Competitions page, where you could be a winner every day!

promotions

 

Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies picked up by HBO; Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon to star

Liane MoriartyHuge news for the all-conquering Liane Moriarty as news breaks that the adaptation of her acclaimed novel Big Little Lies is coming to HBO, the home of Game of Thrones, Girls and True Detective. The project landed at HBO after the premium cable channel won a bidding war with Netflix.

Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon will star in the mini-series while Emmy winner David E. Kelley, who wrote The Practice and Ally McBeal, will adapt the novel for the screen. Moriarty will have a producing role.

This is big news for fans of Big Little Lies, as the mini-series format is afforded the opportunity to more comprehensively develop characters and explore sub-plots, elements that a 120 minute film struggles with. With Big Little Lies exploring infidelity, divorce, domestic violence and school bullying while focusing on three mothers of kindergarteners in the same class who become embroiled in a homicide investigation, the mini-series format is absolutely the place for it.

An air date hasn’t yet been set yet, which means the show is still a while away. So why not give it a re-read, or if you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy and give it a try.

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

big-little-liesBig Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

I guess it started with the mothers.’

‘It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.’

‘I’ll tell you exactly why it happened.’

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A parent is dead.

Liane Moriarty’s new novel is funny and heartbreaking, challenging and compassionate. The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author turns her unique gaze on parenting and playground politics, showing us what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

‘Let me be clear. This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.’

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

GUEST BLOG: What Katie Read – January – April Round Up (by award-winning author Kate Forsyth)

One of Australia’s favourite novelists Kate Forsyth, author of The Impossible QuestBitter Greens and The Wild Girl, continues her monthly blog with us, giving her verdict on the books she’s been reading.


The Light Between the Oceans

by M.L. Stedman

This novel has at its heart a disturbing moral dilemma. A young woman married to a lighthouse keeper longs for a child of her own, but has lost all of her own babies. One day a boat washes up on their remote island. Inside the boat are a dead man and a baby, who is very much alive. The lighthouse keeper and his wife take in the founding child and, before long, Izzy begins to pretend the little girl is hers. The consequences of that decision will change their lives forever.

The 1920s setting of a small Western Australian town, and the remote island with its lighthouse, is brilliantly evoked. The loneliness of Tom and Izzy’s life on the island, the vast stretch of sea and sky, the comfort of its routines, all are brought vividly to life.

The story is simply but powerfully told, and the slow-building suspense soon has the pages turning fast. Each step the characters take, each choice they make, is utterly in character, giving the story the feel of an inescapable fate, like a Greek tragedy. The Light Between the Oceans really is a superb book, so tightly constructed that not a word feels out of place. I am very curious to see what M.L. Stedman writes next, as this is an astonishingly assured debut.

Grab a copy of The Light Between the Oceans here


Resistance: Memoirs of Occupied France

by Agnes Humbert

I’ve had this book on my shelves for a long time and finally picked it up to read over the summer holidays. Agnes Humbert was an ordinary woman in her late 40s when German troops invaded Paris in June 1940. She was an art historian, married with two sons, who loved to paint. After the Fall of Paris, Agnes began to scribble down her thoughts and feelings in a notebook. She would go mad, she wrote, if she did not do something to resist the Germans. She and a few friends began to meet, to make plans to defy the Germans, and to print a newsletter called Resistance. It was the first resistance group in France. Eventually they were betrayed, and Agnes was arrested and imprisoned in April 1941.

After a mock trial, the men in the group were all shot and the women were sentenced to five years hard labour. The diary ends at this point, and moves to being a memoir of the following horrific years. Agnes and her fellow prisoners were used as slave labour in such appalling conditions she almost died several times. Starved, beaten, and injured by the work, she somehow managed to survive.

After the work camp was liberated by the Americans in June 1945, Agnes set up soup kitchens for refugees and helped the Americans hunt down and prosecute war criminals. Her extraordinary strength, courage and humour shine though on every page, making it a very moving and heartwrenching tale to read.

Grab a copy of Resistance here


Half a King

by Joe Abercrombie

I was on a few panels with Joe Abercrombie at the Perth Writers Festival, and so I was sent his latest book to read. I had heard a great deal about him, as his books had been making big waves in the international fantasy scene. His first book The Blade Itself had sold for a five-figure deal in 2005 (or, as Joe likes to say, ‘a seven-figure deal if you count the pence columns’) and has sold, I am told, more than 3 million copies.

I just loved Half A King. It was tightly constructed, quick-paced, and surprising – qualities that can sometimes be rare in a fantasy novel. It was also beautifully written. I’m really looking forward to reading the next in the series, Half the World, and discovering his earlier book as well. A must-read for fantasy lovers.

 Grab a copy of Half a King here


A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War and a Ruined House in France

by Miranda Richmond Mouillot

Miranda Richmond Mouillot is an American-born writer of European Jewish descent. Her grandparents Armand and Anna lived through the Nazi occupation of France and managed to escape into Switzerland. Miranda’s grandfather worked as a translator at the Nuremberg trials after the war, translating the words of such Nazi criminals as Rudolf Hess. The young couple then bought a tumbledown old stone cottage in a small village in the South of France … only for Anna to flee a few years later, taking their children. She and Armand never spoke another word.

Brought up in the shadow of the Holocaust and troubled by all that was never spoken, Miranda set out to find out what happened. Her journey led her back to the old ruined house in the South of France, to a new understanding of the damage war can do, and – happily – to love and a new life. It’s a beautifully written and unusual memoir which examines the impossibility of ever truly knowing what happened in the past.

Grab a copy of A Fifty-Year Silence here


The Devil in the Marshalsea

by Antonia Hodgson

I met Antonia Hodgson at the Historical Novel Society conference in London last year and – after hearing her speak about her novel The Devil in the Marshalsea – had to buy it straightaway. I’ve finally had a chance to read it, and can strongly recommend it to anyone who loves a really top-notch, fast-paced, and atmospheric historical thriller.

The novel is set in London in 1727, soon after the death of King George I and before his son was crowned George II. Most of the action takes place in the sordid Marchelsea debtors’ prison. The story’s hero, the young, handsome and raffish Tom Hawkins, has been clapped in irons due to his predilection for wine, women and gambling. The Marshalsea is a dangerous place at the best of times, but a violent murder has just taken place within its walls … and Tom is sharing a cell with the prime suspect.

All the action takes place over just a few days, and the plot twists and turns with ferocious speed. I could not put it down once I started. It is without doubt one of the best historical thrillers I’ve ever read and a highly deserving Winner of the CWA Historical Dagger award for 2014.

Grab a copy of The Devil in the Marshalsea here


Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside

by Andrea di Robilant

I first encountered Andrea di Robilant’s work some years ago, when I read The Venetian Affair, his account of the passionate and doomed love affair between one of his ancestors, the dashing Venetian aristocrat Andrea Memmo and Giustiniana Wynne, the half-Italian bastard daughter of an English baronet. Andrea di Robilant’s father had found a mouldering packet of their love letters in the attic of their family’s palazzo, many of them written in secret code. He spent years unravelling the mystery of the letters, but died before he could publish the story. His son Andrea was then a journalist and academic. He took on the task, and the result is an absolutely engrossing look into the closed and rarefied world of the Venetian Republic in the mid 1700s.

Andrea di Robilant has since published several more non-fiction books inspired by his extraordinary family’s history, and Chasing the Rose is the latest. It is, quite simply, an account of his search to find the history of a nameless silvery-pink rose that only grows in the abandoned gardens of the his family’s former country estate. His hunt takes him back in time, to the days of Napoleon’s occupation of Venice and his wife’s obsession with roses, and across the world, from Venice to Paris to China. It is a charming and utterly fascinating little book, and makes me wish my family had once owned a palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice with mysterious letters in the attic and a mysterious, sweet-scented rose in the garden.

Grab a copy of Chasing the Rose here


 Daughters of the Storm

by Kim Wilkins

Kim Wilkins is one of Australia’s most accomplished writers, and Daughters of the Storm is the first in a new fantasy series set in a world very much like Anglo-Saxon Britain. The heroine of the tale is a ferocious female warrior named Bluebell. She has spent her life trying to overcome the liabilities of her flowery name, but she lives in a world where women cannot rule and her sonless father lies in an enchanted sleep. Bluebell must try and find the way to wake her father, while fending off all those enemies who circle the land, eager to take it for themselves. She can trust no-one but her own sisters … but they all have secrets of their own, secrets which could destroy all that Bluebells holds dear.

It’s a compelling story, beautifully told, and Bluebell is a most unusual heroine. It’s lovely to see Australian writers producing such world-class fantasy.

Grab a copy of Daughters of the Storm here


Hansel and Gretel by retold by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Nail Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Both of these exquisitely illustrated hardback editions are published by Bloomsbury, and written by Neil Gaiman with all his characteristic flair. The illustrations for Hansel and Gretel are dark and filled with foreboding and a sense of evil lurking in the shadows. The illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti created the artwork for an exhibit celebrating the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of the Hansel and Gretel opera, which in turn inspired Neil Gaiman to retell the story. It’s a haunting and powerful version, very close to that published in the original 1812 edition of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I also loved the potted history of the tale at the back of the book.

The Sleeper and the Spindle is even more beautiful and strange. In this retelling of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Neil Gaiman has allowed his dark and macabre imagination to run free. Accompanied by the extraordinary illustrations of Chris Riddell – at times beautiful, at times funny, at times disturbing – the story twists the old tale in unexpected ways, to wonderful effect. This was my favourite of the two books, both because of its beautiful production and also because of the way the story is turned inside out. Magical.

Grab a copy of Hansel and Gretel here
Grab a copy of The Sleeper and the Spindle here


The Bletchley Girls: War, Secrecy, Love and Loss: The women of Bletchley Park tell their story

by Tess Dunlop

The story of the codebreakers of Bletchley Park is a fascinating one, and there has been a flood of books and movies about them in recent years, including ‘The Imitation Game’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the mathematician Alan Turing.

Tess Dunlop’s book is a timely addition to the field of knowledge, as she has taken the unusual approach of tracking down and interviewing a number of women who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. Their backgrounds and experiences were all very different, and give a well-rounded view of life at the park during that time. Some of the women came from aristocratic and academic backgrounds; most did not. Some worked in the code-breaking department; most did not. Many have never before spoken about what they did, bound by confidentiality agreements that only recently have been lifted.

Many of the women interviewed are now elderly, and so these first-hand accounts are important primary historical documents. Tess Dunlop is an award-winning historian, and this is a careful and observant account of Bletchley Park, beyond the better-known story of the breakers of the Enigma code.

Grab a copy of The Bletchley Girls here


The Silkworm

by Robert Galbraith

Robert Galbraith is, of course, the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling. Like much of the world, I was interested to read her take on contemporary crime and so grabbed a copy in the airport one day.

I enjoyed it immensely. The characters are all interesting and well-drawn, and the actual murder mystery ingeniously plotted. I enjoyed the wintry London setting, and the interplay of human relationships between the one-legged private detective Cormoran Strike and his pretty red-headed assistant Robin. I really enjoyed the subtle poking of fun at the world of publishing, and loved the mix of humour and pathos. In fact, it’s one of the best contemporary crime novels I’ve read in a while. I’m now tracking down the first in the series The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Grab a copy of The Silkworm here


Kate FKate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults.

She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite Novelists, coming in at No 16. She has been called one of ‘the finest writers of this generation”, and “quite possibly … one of the best story tellers of our modern age.’

Click here to see Kate’s author page

The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth

the-beast-s-gardenA retelling of The Beauty and The Beast set in Nazi Germany

The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom. In ‘The Singing, Springing Lark,’ the daughter grows to love her beast but unwittingly betrays him and he is turned into a dove. She follows the trail of blood and white feathers he leaves behind him for seven years, and, when she loses the trail, seeks help from the sun, the moon, and the four winds. Eventually she battles an evil enchantress and saves her husband, breaking the enchantment and turning him back into a man.

Kate Forsyth retells this German fairy tale as an historical novel set in Germany during the Nazi regime. A young woman marries a Nazi officer in order to save her father, but hates and fears her new husband. Gradually she comes to realise that he is a good man at heart, and part of an underground resistance movement in Berlin called the Red Orchestra. However, her realisation comes too late. She has unwittingly betrayed him, and must find some way to rescue him and smuggle him out of the country before he is killed.

The Red Orchestra was a real-life organisation in Berlin, made up of artists, writers, diplomats and journalists, who passed on intelligence to the American embassy, distributed leaflets encouraging opposition to Hitler, and helped people in danger from the Nazis to escape the country. They were betrayed in 1942, and many of their number were executed.

The Beast’s Garden is a compelling and beautiful love story, filled with drama and intrigue and heartbreak, taking place between 1938 and 1943, in Berlin, Germany.

Click here to grab a copy of The Beast’s Garden

The 2015 Sydney Writer’s Festival In Focus – Andrew’s Highlights

Can you hear that?

Pages being briskly bookmarked, notepads scribbled on frantically, publicists sweating over author schedules…

The Sydney Writer’s Festival is nearly here!

And because I’m getting all excited, I’ve picked out some of my highlights for the 2015 edition, take a gander. For more details head to www.swf.org.au

Continue reading

Buy Emily Bitto’s award-winning The Strays in Paperback and receive the eBook free!

For a very limited time when you buy the paperback edition of The Strays, winner of the 2015 Stella Prize,  you will receive the full ebook edition, absolutely free!

the-strays

The Strays

by Emily Bitto

In The Strays, Evan Trentham is the wild child of the Melbourne art world of the 1930s. He and his captivating wife, Helena, attempt to carve out their own small niche, to escape the stifling conservatism they see around them, by gathering together other like-minded artists.

They create a utopian circle within their family home, offering these young artists a place to live and work, and the mixed benefits of being associated with the infamous Evan. At the periphery of this circle is Lily Struthers, the best friend of Evan and Helena’s daughter Eva.

Lily is infatuated by the world she bears witness to, and longs to be part of this enthralling makeshift family. As Lily observes years later, looking back on events that she still carries painfully within her, the story of this groundbreaking circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

Grab a copy of Emily Bitto’s The Strays here

Caroline Baum’s Review

Inspired by the bohemian art world of 1930s Melbourne this is a marvellously accomplished and assured debut, announcing a major new talent. Rich in atmosphere and beautifully observed, it tells the story of only child Lily who makes friends with Eva at school and then becomes infatuated with her family, particularly larger-than-life painter Evan and his glamorous wife Helena.

Lily tells the story of her progressive enchantment with their home, their garden, their friends and their expanding creative circle of strays from a retrospective point of view, as an adult now faced with the prospect of reunion with Eva after a long separation: a gallery opening invitation brings back sharp and painful memories of intense relationships.

Poetic, richly visual and faultlessly judged in terms of pace, character and atmosphere, this is writing that has the rich patina of an enduring classic. A stylish and mature addition to the rites of passage, coming of age genre.

Grab a copy of Emily Bitto’s The Strays here

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