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y separately published work icon Lovesong single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 2009... 2009 Lovesong
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small, rundown Tunisian cafe on Paris' distant fringes. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers working at the great abattoirs of Vaugiraud, who, like them, had grown used to the smell of blood in the air. But when one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, the quiet simplicities of their lives are changed forever.

John is like no-one Sabiha has met before - his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage - a marriage of two cultures lived in a third - and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events.

Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. It is a story about home and family, human frailties and passions, raising questions of morals and purpose - questions have no simple answer.

Lovesong is a simple enough story in many ways - the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle - but when told with Miller's distinctive voice, which is all intelligence, clarity and compassion, it has a real gravitas, it resonates and is deeply moving. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven.' (From the publisher's website.)


  • Dedication: For Stephanie and for our children Ross and Kate. And for Erin.
  • Epigraph:
    I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the wild does:
    do not stir up or awaken love
    until it is ready!
    The Song of Solomon

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Crows Nest, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Allen and Unwin , 2009 .
      image of person or book cover 1925060738097380109.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 354p.
      ISBN: 9781742372723 (special ed.), 9781742371290 (hbk)
Alternative title: Liefdeslied
Language: Dutch
    • Vianen,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      The House of Books ,
      2011 .
      image of person or book cover 5655126277309528146.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 319p.p.
      ISBN: 9789044329780, 9044329782

Other Formats

  • Also sound recording.
  • Large print.

Works about this Work

All the Other Stories Melanie Cheng , 2019 single work autobiography
— Appears in: Meanjin , Winter vol. 78 no. 2 2019; (p. 121-125)

'I've just devoured Alex Miller's book Lovesong. Even more than the love affair between John and Sabiha, I'm haunted by the narrator Ken's dilemma - the question of whether he should follow his impulse to write a book about the couple's extraordinary story. John tells Ken he plans to write his own memoir, but Ken has little confidence in John's abilities as a writer, believing the English teacher to be too close to the story to channel the characters effectively.' (Introduction)


Author Snaffles Danger Money Jason Steger , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 8 November 2012; (p. 3)
Representing ‘the Other’ in the Fiction of Alex Miller Elizabeth Webby , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 114-124)
'Alex Miller began publishing his novels in 1988 at the end of a period of intense debate in literary circles about the ethics of representation, a debate informed by feminism, multiculturalism and postcolonialism. Put crudely, the debate was about whether white, male writers from first-world countries, the dominant literary players up to this point, should continue to have open slather in writing about their others, i.e. those who were not white or male, now that these others were at last finding their voices and writing back.

In Australia, the debate was particularly focused on the question of white writers' representation of Aboriginals. Indeed, in 1979 I was told, after giving a conference paper on colonial poems about Aboriginals, that I was lucky there were no Aboriginals in the audience. But in feminist circles male appropriation of female voices was also a major issue. Although a total ban on representations of others would clearly have meant the end of fiction as we know it, these debates did draw attention to the stereotyped representations of women, Aboriginals, Chinese and other 'others' found in much earlier Australian writing.

When I first read Alex Miller, soon after The Ancestor Game was published in 1992, I was struck by the unusual empathy shown here for his female characters and their predicaments, as well as by his insightful depictions of people from other cultures. These have continued to be hallmarks of his fiction, with representations of 'otherness' also extending to animals, especially in The Tivington Nott and Landscape of Farewell. My paper, however, will have as its focus The Ancestor Game, Conditions of Faith and Lovesong.' (Author's abstract)
Alex Miller : Migrant Writer Ingeborg van Teeseling , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 66-77)
'Alex Miller, a two-time winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, as written ten novels, all of them featuring protagonists who are outsiders, often in more ways than one. In most, if not all of them, Miller's narrators grapple with personal and societal questions of alienation. Miller's books offer sophisticated literary investigations into issues relating to the 'ownership' of place and landscape, the impossibility of an uncomplicated identity after migration, the role of history, and the nature of belonging and home. Critical reviews of his work have, over time, acknowledged this presence of migrant themes, but the connection between the migrancy of the writer and the content of his work has hardly ever been noted clearly. In fact, the Oxford Literary History of Australia categorises Miller, a little mystifyingly, as a 'non-migrant Australian writer' (Lever, 325). My argument here is that this is not just factually false, but that reading Miller's work as unproblematically Australian takes the sting out of what he is trying to say, and not just about the migrant experience but about Australia as well.' (Author's introduction 66)
'My Memory has a Mind of Its Own' : Watching the Climbers on the Mountain and The Tivington Nott Peter Pierce , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Novels of Alex Miller : An Introduction 2012; (p. 55-65)
'Not long ago, Alex Miller remarked at a literary event (my witness is a bookseller from Launceston) that 'My memory has a mind of its own'. What might this mean? Perhaps a memory that is truant, given to reinvention, but also set free. Another implication might concern the double insecurity of memory: the tenuousness of our hold on what we can recollect from the past, and the uncertain hold that memory gives us on our present. In any event, that remark by Miller began and then informs this discussion of the first two novels that he wrote, works that draw closely on some salient events of his youth. They are Watching the Climbers on the Mountain (1988) and The Tivington Nott (1989)...' (From author's introduction 55)
Well Read Katharine England , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 31 October 2009; (p. 24)

— Review of Barley Patch Gerald Murnane , 2009 single work novel ; Lovesong Alex Miller , 2009 single work novel
Review of the Week Guy Rundle , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 8 November 2009; (p. 24)

— Review of Lovesong Alex Miller , 2009 single work novel
Miller Crossings Judith Armstrong , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , November no. 316 2009; (p. 17)

— Review of Lovesong Alex Miller , 2009 single work novel
High Infidelity Stella Clarke , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , November vol. 4 no. 10 2009; (p. 23)

— Review of Lovesong Alex Miller , 2009 single work novel
Exploring the Lyrics of Love Fran Metcalf , 2009 single work review
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 14 - 15 November 2009; (p. 23)

— Review of Lovesong Alex Miller , 2009 single work novel
It's Love, Actually Diane Stubbings , 2009 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 24 October 2009; (p. 13)
Woo the Muse : Now That's an Idea Jane Sullivan , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 20 February 2010; (p. 26)
Jane Sullivan notes the ideas and people that inspire Carmel Bird, Alex Miller and Matthew Reilly.
Pick a Franklin Winner William Yeoman , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The West Australian , 22 June 2010; (p. 6-7)
The Diary : Big Day for Alex Miller Matt Buchanan , Leesha McKenny , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 16 July 2010; (p. 18)
Off the Top Shelf Catherine Cole , Mark Rubbo , Michael Shmith , Clare Wright , Gig Ryan , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 31 July 2010; (p. 24-25)
The judges for the 2010 Age Book of the Year Awards provide a summary for the category for which they are responsible and comments on each shortlisted title.
Last amended 13 Feb 2020 11:19:15
  • Paris,
    Western Europe, Europe,
  • Melbourne, Victoria,
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