AustLit logo
Australian General Fiction Book of the Year
Subcategory of Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA)
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Winners

2019 winner y separately published work icon The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart Holly Ringland , Australia : Fourth Estate , 2018 12341482 2018 single work novel

'The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.

'An enchanting and captivating novel, about how our untold stories haunt us - and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.

'After her family suffers a tragedy, nine-year-old Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak.

'Under the watchful eye of June and the women who run the farm, Alice settles, but grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family's story. In her early twenties, Alice's life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. In this otherworldly landscape Alice thinks she has found solace, until she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.

'Spanning two decades, set between sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart follows Alice's unforgettable journey, as she learns that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2018 winner y separately published work icon The Secrets She Keeps Michael Robotham , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2017 11232510 2017 single work novel thriller

'Everyone has an idea of what their perfect life is. For Agatha, it's Meghan Shaughnessy's.

'These two women from vastly different backgrounds have one thing in common - a dangerous secret that could destroy everything they hold dear.

Both will risk everything to hide the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in a shocking act that cannot be undone.

'THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS is a compelling psychological thriller that delves deeply into the psyche of the human mind, by internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham.' (Publication summary)

2017 winner y separately published work icon The Dry Jane Harper , Sydney : Macmillan Australia , 2016 9592721 2016 single work novel detective

'WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

'Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well ...

'When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

'And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds are reopened. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret ... A secret Falk thought long-buried ... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface ...' (Publication summary)

2016 winner y separately published work icon The Patterson Girls Rachael Johns , North Sydney : Harlequin Enterprises , 2015 8772785 2015 single work novel

'How can four sisters build the futures they so desperately want, when the past is reaching out to claim them?

'When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mother’s death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.

'The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown, violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career, while teacher Lucinda is struggling to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.

'Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves old and new and a series of troublesome decisions doesn’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover the shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew.

'A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.' (Publication summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon Lost & Found Brooke Davis , Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2014 6864471 2014 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'A heart-warming debut about finding out what love and life is all about.

'At seven years old, Millie Bird realises that everything is dying around her. She wasn't to know that after she had recorded twenty-seven assorted creatures in her Book of Dead Things her dad would be a Dead Thing, too.

'Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and has not left her house since her husband died. She sits behind her front window, hidden by the curtains and ivy, and shouts at passers-by, roaring her anger at complete strangers. Until the day Agatha spies a young girl across the street.

'Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven when his son kisses him on the cheek before leaving him at the nursing home. As he watches his son leave, Karl has a moment of clarity. He escapes the home and takes off in search of something different.

'Three lost people needing to be found. But they don't know it yet. Millie, Agatha and Karl are about to break the rules and discover what living is all about.' (Publication summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon The Rosie Project Graeme Simsion , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2013 Z1863383 2013 single work novel humour

'Don Tillman is a forty-year-old geneticist with undiagnosed Aspergers. When he wants to find a partner, he approaches the project the only way he knows - systematically. He creates a questionnaire designed to find the perfect woman - a punctual, non-drinking, non-smoking female who will fit in with his regimented lifestyle. When Rosie appears on the scene, she fits none of Don's criteria - but she does turn his life upside down.'

Source: Wheeler Centre website,
Sighted: 28/05/2012

2013 winner y separately published work icon The Secret Keeper : A Novel Kate Morton , New York (City) : Atria Books , 2012 Z1899473 2012 single work novel historical fiction 'During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy's ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds--Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy--who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. This book explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told--in Morton's signature style--against a backdrop of events that changed the world.' Libraries Australia.
2012 winner y separately published work icon Sarah Thornhill Kate Grenville , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2011 Z1882145 2011 single work novel historical fiction 'Sarah Thornhill is the youngest child of William Thornhill, convict-turned-landowner on the Hawkesbury River. She grows up in the fine house her father is so proud of, a strong-willed young woman who's certain where her future lies. She's known Jack Langland since she was a child, and always loved him. But the past is waiting in ambush with its dark legacy. There's a secret in Sarah's family, a piece of the past kept hidden from the world and from her. A secret Jack can't live with... ' (Trove record)
2011 winner y separately published work icon The Distant Hours Kate Morton , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2010 Z1738593 2010 single work novel mystery

'Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long-lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother's emotional distance masks an old secret. Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl, Edie's mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond, author of the 1918 children's classic The True History of the Mud Man. In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie's mother. She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers.

Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother's riddle, she, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiance in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.' Source: www.allenandunwin.com/ (Sighted 03/11/2010).

2010 winner y separately published work icon Truth Peter Temple , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2009 Z1594714 2009 single work novel crime thriller (taught in 2 units)

'Stephen Villani is the acting head of the Victoria Police homicide squad. But his first months on the job have not gone well: two Aboriginal teenagers shot dead in a botched operation he authorised in the provincial city of Cromarty; and, no progress on the killing of a man in front of his daughter outside a private girls' school.

Now five men are found dead in horrifying circumstances on the outskirts of the city. Villani's superiors and the media are baying for arrests. To add to his woes, some of the country's richest people are alarmed by the baffling killing of a young woman in the high-security tower where they live.

Villani, a man who has built his life around his work, begins to find the certainties of both crumbling. As the pressure mounts, he finds that he must contemplate things formerly unthinkable. Truth is a novel about murder, corruption, family, friends, honour, honesty, deceit, love, betrayal and truth.' (from Quercus website)

2009 winner y separately published work icon The Forgotten Garden Kate Morton , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2008 Z1483188 2008 single work novel mystery 'Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.' (Publisher's blurb)
2008 winner y separately published work icon Those Faraday Girls Monica McInerney , Camberwell : Viking , 2007 Z1423975 2007 single work novel As a child, Maggie Faraday grew up in a lively, unconventional household in Tasmania, with her young mother, four very different aunts and eccentric grandfather. With her mother often away, all four aunts took turns looking after her - until, just weeks before Maggie's sixth birthday, a shocking event changed everything. Twenty years on, Maggie is living alone in New York City when a surprise visit from her grandfather brings a revelation and a proposition to reunite the family. As the Faradays gather in Ireland, Maggie begins to realise that the women she thought she knew so intimately all have something to hide... Those Faraday Girls is a rich and complex story full of warmth, humour and unforgettable women. Spanning several countries and thirty years, it is a deeply moving novel about family secrets and lies - and how the memories that bind us together can also keep us apart. (Publisher's blurb.)
2007 winner y separately published work icon The Shifting Fog Kate Morton , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2006 Z1266166 2006 single work novel mystery (taught in 1 units) Set in England between the wars, this novel tells the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept a secret for decades.
Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline. In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they - and Grace - know the truth.
In 1999, when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace's youth during the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant twenties and the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever.
The novel is full of secrets - some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It is also a meditation on memory, the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.' (Publisher's blurb)
2006 winner y separately published work icon The Broken Shore Peter Temple , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2005 Z1207328 2005 single work novel crime (taught in 9 units)

'Joe Cashin was different once. He moved easily then; was surer and less thoughtful. But there are consequences when you've come so close to dying. For Cashin, they included a posting away from the world of Homicide to the quiet place on the coast where he grew up. Now all he has to do is play the country cop and walk the dogs. And sometimes think about how he was before.

'Then prominent local Charles Bourgoyne is bashed and left for dead. Everything seems to point to three boys from the nearby Aboriginal community; everyone seems to want it to. But Cashin is unconvinced. And as tragedy unfolds relentlessly into tragedy, he finds himself holding onto something that might be better let go.'
Source: Publisher's website (Sighted 22/8/11)

X