Established in 1957, the Miles Franklin Literary Award is an annual literary prize awarded to 'a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases'.
The award was established after the death of the Australian writer Stella Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career and other works. Franklin's will provided for the establishment of this award which she hoped would help foster the ‘advancement, improvement and betterment of Australian Literature.’
Read more about the award and its history at the Miles Franklin Literary Award website.
In 2019, the award received Perpetual Limited's $37,500 contribution to the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund for the 2020 award.
Source: http://www.milesfranklin.com.au/ Sighted:15/11/2013
'Too much lip, her old problem from way back. And the older she got, the harder it seemed to get to swallow her opinions. The avalanche of bullshit in the world would drown her if she let it; the least she could do was raise her voice in anger.
'Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley.
'Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.
'Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip offers redemption and forgiveness where none seems possible.' (Publication summary)
'Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don't tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.
'Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.
'Profoundly moving as well as bitingly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present.' (Synopsis)
'He hated the word ‘retirement’, but not as much as he hated the word ‘village’, as if ageing made you a peasant or a fool. Herein lives the village idiot.
'Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, world expert on concrete and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and his two adult children are lost to him in their own ways. Surrounded and obstructed by the debris of his life – objects he has collected over many years and tells himself he is keeping for his daughter – he is determined to be miserable, but is tired of his existence and of the life he has chosen.
'When a series of unfortunate incidents forces him and his neighbour, Jan, together, he begins to realise the damage done by the accumulation of a lifetime’s secrets and lies, and to comprehend his own shortcomings. Finally, Frederick Lothian has the opportunity to build something meaningful for the ones he loves.
'Humorous, poignant and galvanising by turns, Extinctions is a novel about all kinds of extinction – natural, racial, national and personal – and what we can do to prevent them.' (Publication summary)
'Black Rock White City is a novel about the damages of war, the limits of choice, and the hope of love. During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan's cleaning work at a bayside hospital is disrupted by acts of graffiti and violence becoming increasingly malevolent. For Jovan the mysterious words that must be cleaned away dislodge the poetry of the past. He and his wife Suzana were forced to flee Sarajevo and the death of their children.
'Intensely human, yet majestic in its moral vision, Black Rock White City is an essential story of Australia's suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams. It is a breathtaking roar of energy that explores the immigrant experience with ferocity, beauty and humour.' (Publication summary)
'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 holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father's way. But when Jimmy's world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.' (Publication summary)
'Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods?
'Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It's just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep - every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.
'It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake's unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.
'Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman's present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.' (Publisher's blurb)
'A mesmerising literary novel, Questions of Travel charts two very different lives. Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides. Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka by devastating events.
'Around these two superbly drawn characters, a double narrative assembles an enthralling array of people, places and stories - from Theo, whose life plays out in the long shadow of the past, to Hana, an Ethiopian woman determined to reinvent herself in Australia.
'Award-winning author Michelle de Kretser illuminates travel, work and modern dreams in this brilliant evocation of the way we live now. Wonderfully written, Questions of Travel is an extraordinary work of imagination - a transformative, very funny and intensely moving novel.' (From the publisher's website.)
'Anna Funder's utterly compelling first novel All That I Am is about the heroic and largely tragic fate of a small group of left-wing German activists who opposed the rise of Hitler. It centres on two real people: the playwright Ernst Toller (famously eulogized by his friend W H Auden), and one of his associates, Ruth Koplowitz. Ruth was also a friend of Toller, and came to live in Sydney after WW2, where Anna got to know her well in later life. Their lives were tied together by the charismatic, passionate Dora - All That I Am vividly, passionately and irresistibly brings back to life their struggles, their hopes, their fears and their fates.'
Source: Penguin News, 6 October 2010
Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.
'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.
'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (From the publisher's website.)
'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)
'One suburban morning in Summer 1970, Peter van Rijn, proprietor of the television and wireless shop, realises that his suburb is 100 years old. He contacts the Mayor, who assembles a Committee, and celebrations are eagerly planned. That same morning, just a few streets way, Rita is awakened by a dream of her husband's snores. It is years since Vic moved north, and left their house of empty silences, yet his life remains bound up with hers. Their son, too, has moved on - Michael is at university, exploring new ideas and the heady world of grown-up love. Yet Rita still stubbornly stays in the old street, unable to imagine leaving the house she has tended so lovingly for so long. Instead she has taken on the care of another house as well - that of the widowed Mrs Webster, owner of the suburb's landmark factory, now in decline. As these lives entwine, and the Committee commissions its centenary mural and prepares to commemorate Progress, History - in the shape of the new, post-war generation represented by Michael and his friends - is heading straight for them...'
(Source: Publisher's blurb)
In the first days of British settlement in Australia, Desmond Kale, an Irish political prisoner, escapes and disappears beyond the colony line, where rumour says he is thriving.
'His father dead by fire and his mother plagued by demons of her own, William is cast upon the charity of his unknown uncle - an embittered old man encamped in the ruins of a once great station homestead, Kuran House. It's a baffling and sinister new world for the boy, a place of decay and secret histories. His uncle is obsessed by a long life of decline and by a dark quest for revival, his mother is desperate for a wealth and security she has never known, and all their hopes it seems come to rest upon William's young shoulders. But as the past and present of Kuran Station unravel and merge together, the price of that inheritance may prove to be the downfall of them all. The White Earth is a haunting, disturbing and cautionary tale.' (publisher's website)
'The year is 1947. The great fire of the Second World War has convulsed Europe and Asia. In its wake, Aldred Leith, an acclaimed hero of the conflict, has spent two years in China at work on an account of world-transforming change there. Son of a famed and sexually ruthless novelist, Leith begins to resist his own self-sufficiency, nurtured by war. Peter Exley, another veteran and an art historian by training, is prosecuting war crimes committed by the Japanese. Both men have narrowly escaped death in battle, and Leith saved Exley's life. The men have maintained long-distance friendship in a postwar loneliness that haunts them both, and which has swallowed Exley whole. Now in their thirties, with their youth behind them and their world in ruins, both must invent the future and retrieve a private humanity.
'Arriving in Occupied Japan to record the effects of the bomb at Hiroshima, Leith meets Benedict and Helen Driscoll, the Australian son and daughter of a tyrannical medical administrator. Benedict, at twenty, is doomed by a rare degenerative disease. Helen, still younger, is inseparable from her brother. Precocious, brilliant, sensitive, at home in the books they read together, these two have been, in Leith's words, delivered by literature. The young people capture Leith's sympathy; indeed, he finds himself struggling with his attraction to this girl whose feelings are as intense as his own and from whom he will soon be fatefully parted.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'Georgie Jutland is a mess. At forty, with her career in ruins, she finds herself stranded in White Point with a fisherman she doesn't love and two kids whose dead mother she can never replace. Her days have fallen into domestic tedium and social isolation. Her nights are a blur of vodka and pointless loitering in cyberspace. Leached of all confidence, Georgie has lost her way; she barely recognises herself.
'One morning, in the boozy pre-dawn gloom, she looks up from the computer screen to see a shadow lurking on the beach below, and a dangerous new element enters her life. Luther Fox, the local poacher. Jinx. Outcast...' (From the publisher's website.)
'Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
'Five years have passed since Edith Campbell Berry's triumphant arrival at the League of Nations in Geneva, determined to right the wrongs of the world. The idealism of those early Grand Days has been eroded by a sense foreboding as the world moves ever closer to another war. Edith's life too, has changed: her marriage and her work are no longer the anchors in her life – she is restless, unsure, feeling the weight of history upon her and her world.
'As her certainties crumble, Edith is once again joined by Ambrose Westwood, her old friend and lover. Their reunion is joyful, and her old anxiety about their unconventional relationship is replaced by a feeling that all things are possible – at least in her private life.
'But World War II advances inexorably, and Edith, Ambrose and their fellow officers must come to terms with the knowledge that their best efforts – and those of the well-meaning world – are simply useless against the forces of the time. Moving, wise and utterly engrossing, this is a profound and enriching novel. Grand Days and Dark Palace confirm Frank Moorhouse as one of our greatest writers – a master of tone and timing, an elegant and exuberant stylist, and an unerring chronicler of the human spirit.'
[sourced from publisher's website]
Holland lived with his only daughter, Ellen, by a khaki river four hours west of Sydney. In spite of their remote location, tales of Ellen's beauty had traveled long distances and in the process inscribed a small legend. But Ellen's desirability was Holland's blindspot and finally he decided that the man who correctly named every eucalypt on his property would win the hand of his daughter. (Source: Trove)
'When Mike Langford, a war photographer with a reputation for unusual risk-taking, disappears inside Cambodia, he becomes a mythic figure in the minds of his friends. The search for him which is at the heart of this novel explores the personal highways that led him to war, and to his ultimate fate.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'The brothers Kovalenko...did not kill Jews just because they were poor and Ukrainian, and did not know any better. They killed Jews because they believed that they themselves were savages.'
'The Hand that Signed the Paper tells the story of Vitaly, a Ukrainian peasant, who endures the destruction of his village and family by Stalin's communism. He welcomes the Nazi invasion in 1941 and willingly enlists in the SS Death Squads to take a horrifying revenge against those he perceives to be his persecutors.
'This remarkable novel, a shocking story of the hatred that gives evil life, is also an eloquent plea for peace and justice.' (Publication summary)
'Every city, town and village has its memorial to war. Nowhere are these more eloquent than in Australia, generations of whose young men have enlisted to fight other people's battles - from Gallipoli and the Somme to Malaya and Vietnam. In THE GREAT WORLD, his finest novel yet, David Malouf gives a voice to that experience. But THE GREAT WORLD is more than a novel of war. Ranging over seventy years of Australian life, from Sydney's teeming King's Cross to the tranquil backwaters of the Hawkesbury River, it is a remarkable novel of self-knowledge and lost innocence, of survival and witness.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Vintage reprint).
'Beneath a vast constructed/deconstructed landscape (both human and geographic) lies a labyrinth of disused mineshafts. It is a landscape in which vast saline lakes suddenly appear overnight, in which wheat babies disappear into wheat fields, in which lizards are mistaken for rocks, in which a huge grain silo becomes a cathedral and a gold front-end loader the angel of the apocalypse. It is a place where history repeats/mirrors itself and is populated by doppelganagers and we find ourselves following the after-image of the phosphene as though it was a manuscript hoping for illumination.
'The book deals with multiplicity of perception - through history/memory, national mythologies, families and writing (blood and ink), puzzles and their reasons - which might be said to be their execution.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'Oscar Hopkins is an Oxford seminarian with a passion for gambling. Lucinda Leplastrier is a Sydney heiress with a fascination for glass. The year is 1864. When they meet on the boat to Australia their lives will be forever changed ...'
(Source: Publisher's website)
'‘She’s going now,’ said Henry Watter if he said anything at all. Or, ‘It’s a tricky place, the world. You’ve got to be sharp to manage it.’‘Leave her be. She’ll be back,’ said Mrs Watter. ‘This is her home. She knows that.’
Lark Watter had always planned to run away from her stifling suburban life in 1960s Sydney. At university she encounters an American, Tom, and with him the promise of escape. Following Tom to the other side of the world by freighter is a journey to freedom—but the adventure Lark has embarked on isn’t quite what she had anticipated. Not on the way there, and certainly not in New York…
A picaresque journey across the high seas and through the extremes of the ’60s, Dancing on Coral was Glenda Adams’ second novel and established her international reputation. (Publisher's blurb)
'Miss Hester Harper, middle-aged and eccentric, brings Katherine into her emotionally impoverished life. Together they sew, cook gourmet dishes for two, run the farm, make music and throw dirty dishes down the well. One night, driving along the deserted track that leads to the farm, they run into a mysterious creature. They heave the body from the roo bar and dump it into the farm's deep well. But the voice of the injured intruder will not be stilled and, most disturbing of all, the closer Katherine is drawn to the edge of the well, the farther away she gets from Hester.' (From the publisher's website.)
'Clive Broderick, guitar-teacher and occultist - the Doubleman of the title of this acclaimed novel - is speaking of power, and of a realm beyond reality. This is a fable of the sixties, when shared belief-systems crumbled, and the spiritual bazaars of today opened up. Christopher Koch's theme is illusion; and all his characters are bound by it. The Rymers are an electric folk group enjoying mounting success in Sydney. Their producer, Richard Miller, came under Broderick's spell during his youth in Tasmania; so did the guitarists Brady and Burr. Now, years after his death, Broderick's presence remains with all three. Through his disciple, Burr, it will lead to nightmare.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (HarperCollins, 2013 ed.)
'Tim Winton's first Miles Franklin-winner, Shallows revolves around the ruthless commerce of whaling, and Queenie Cookson, who joins the fight to end it.
'Whales have always been the life-force of Angelus, a small town on the south coast of Western Australia. Their annual passing defines the rhythms of a life where little changes, and the town depends on their carcasses. So when the battle begins on the beaches outside their town, and when Queenie Cookson, a local girl, joins the Greenies to make amends for the crimes of her whaling ancestors, it can only throw everything into chaos.' (Publication summary)
'The back-of-beyond New South Wales hamlet of Whitey's Fall is the home of a secret, solitary boy seeking love, two young men who crave the same woman, and an earnest, bumbling, and provocative government man.' (Publisher's blurb)
'For thirty-nine years Harry Joy has been the quintessential good guy. But one morning Harry has a heart attack on his suburban front lawn, and, for the space of nine minutes, he becomes a dead guy. And although he is resuscitated, he will never be the same. For, as Peter Carey makes abundantly clear in this darkly funny novel, death is sometimes a necessary prelude to real life.' (From the author's website.)
'A Woman of the Future, first published in 1979, was David Ireland’s best-selling sixth novel and his third to win the Miles Franklin Award.
'An imaginative tour de force, it is the story of the young life of Anthea Hunt—from conception to sexual awakening. It is controversial and brilliant, and unlike anything else in Australian literature.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
'Liza used to say that she saw her past life as a string of roughly-graded balls, and so did Hilda have a linear conception of hers, thinking of it as a track with detours. But for some years now I have likened mine to a globe suspended in my head, and ever since the shocking realisation that waste is irretrievalbe, I have been careful not to let this globe spin to expose the nether side on which my marriage has left its multitude of images.
'Nora Porteous has spent most of her life waiting to escape. Fleeing from her small-town family and then from her stifling marriage to a mean-spirited husband, Nora arrives finally in London where she creates a new life for herself as a successful dressmaker.
'Now in her seventies, Nora returns to Queensland to settle into her childhood home.
'But Nora has been away a long time, and the people and events of her past are not at all like she remembered them. And while some things never change, Nora is about to discover just how selective her 'globe of memory' has been.
'Tirra Lirra by the River is a moving account of one woman's remarkable life, a beautifully written novel which displays the lyrical brevity of Jessica Anderson's award-winning style.' (Publication summary)
'Ruth Park’s Miles Franklin-winning novel brilliantly evokes Australia in the midst of the Great Depression.
'Growing up in an Australian country town before World War I, Jackie Hanna and Cushie Moy are carefree and innocent in their love for each other. But Jackie is a dwarf, and his devotion to the beautiful Cushie is condemned by her parents. This is the story of their lifelong odyssey, and of the triumph of a special kind of courage.
'Written with warmth and affection, this is a powerful story about human nature and the strength of an unlikely love. Ruth Park brilliantly captures the mood of Australia in the first part of the twentieth century.' (Publication summary)
'On hot days we jumped fully clothed into our bottomless beer glasses and pushed off from shore without a backward look. Heading for the deep, where it was calm and cool.
'Meat Man is a regular at the Southern Cross pub in Sydney. With his tribe he sits and drinks and watches as life spirals around him. David Ireland’s novel tells his stories, about the pub, its patrons and their women, about the brutal, tender and unexpected places his glass canoe takes him.' (Publication summary)
'It is told in the first person by “the acolyte,” Paul Vesper. The novel traces the career of a fictional Australian musician and composer named Jack Holberg. Beginning in obscurity as a piano player in Grogbusters, a dreary little Queensland town, the blind Holberg eventually gains international recognition as a composer. Vesper, who had met Holberg during his less renowned period, gives up an engineering career to serve the great man—in a sense, to become his eyes. ' (Publication summary)
'What was Puroil? At Clearwater it was a sprawling refinery, an army of white shirts, a fleet of wagons, a number of apparently separate companies, dozens of monolithic departments protected from each other by an armour of functional difference and jealousy. On the refinery site it was two hundred and fifty shabby prisoners, a heavy overload of foremen, supervisors, plant controllers, shift controllers, up to the giddy height of section heads (popularly miscalled Suction Heads, a metaphor deriving from pumps) who were clerks for the technologists; project and process engineers and superintendents who were whipping-boys for the—whisper it!—the Old Man himself, the Manager, who was actually only a Branch Manager and a sort of bum-boy for Head Office in Victoria, which was a backward colonial outpost in the eyes of the London office, which was a junior partner in British-European Puroil its mighty self, which was the property of anonymous shareholders.
'On the shores of Botany Bay lies an oil refinery where workers are free to come and go—but they are also part of an unrelenting, alienating economy from which there is no escape. In the first of his three Miles Franklin Award-winning novels, originally published in 1971, David Ireland offers a fiercely brilliant comic portrait of Australia in the grip of a dehumanising labour system.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
'Set against the backdrop of a Greek island, Clean Straw for Nothing follows the story of successful war correspondent and retired journalist David Meredith as he abandons his career for a life in exile with his beautiful wife Cressida. Johnston focuses on the developing relationship between David and Cressida, exploring the complex and reflective character of David as he questions the nature of success, sexual tensions, expatriation and ill-health. The questions are almost entirely unanswerable and the freedom David craves nearly impossible.'
— publisher's website
'Set in a Roman Catholic diocese,...Three Cheers for the Paraclete is about the dilemma of the rebel who knows that established authority is wrong but doesn't know how to put it right because he is himself too much a part of it. It is also about a critical religious issue...the conflict between a new generation which sees religious truth as something that must change with the world, and an establishment which sees it as fixed and immutable.
In the character of young Father Maitland, scholar and humanitarian, many readers will recognize a lost hero of our time. Others, perhaps, will see only an arrogant intellectual, and something of a heretic. But almost everyone will identify with one side or the other of the conflict into which Father Maitland's beliefs and sympathies draw him - a conflict with his superiors which threatens to destroy him both as a priest and as a man.' (Source: dustjacket, 1968 Angus and Robertson edition)
''The thing I am trying to get at is what made Jack different from me. Different all through our lives, I mean, and in a special sense, not just older or nobler or braver or less clever.'
'David and Jack Meredith grow up in a patriotic suburban Melbourne household during the First World War, and go on to lead lives that could not be more different. Through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece. ' (Publication summary)
'It’s the Great Depression. Six-year-old PS is an orphan. He lives in Sydney with his Aunt Lila. But all that is about to change. Now his Aunt Vanessa has decided to take proper care of him.
'Careful, He Might Hear You is one of the most extraordinary portraits of childhood in Australian fiction.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)
'Patrick White's brilliant 1961 novel, set in an Australian suburb, intertwines four deeply different lives. An Aborigine artist, a Holocaust survivor, a beatific washerwoman, and a childlike heiress are each blessed—and stricken—with visionary experiences that may or may not allow them to transcend the machinations of their fellow men. Tender and lacerating, pure and profane, subtle and sweeping, Riders in the Chariot is one of the Nobel Prize winner's boldest books. (Publication summary)
"The Big Fellow, Macy Donovan, who in Seedtime, the second novel of Vance Palmer's Golconda trilogy, was still in the early stages of his political career, is at the opening of this third novel of the trilogy at the peak of his powers and achievement.
'The novel takes up his story after a gap of twenty years. Now fifty, a shrewd and experienced politician, Macy is about to step into the shoes of Wardle, the Premier, who has departed to a cosy niche in the agent-generalship in London. Apparently Macy's ambitions have been achieved and his desires fulfilled - the premiership, a comfortable marriage, two children - yet there are inner stirrings of discontent and vague wishes for a fulfilment he has never found, and in the background rumblings of a political storm over an old mining venture.
'Macy's sense of frustration is soon awakened fully by the return into his life of Neda, the sculptress, who first touched his emotions in his early days on the Golconda mining field. He feels that with her he can find a fulness of life that he has never known with his wife, Kitty.
'Meanwhile the raking over the ashes of his involvement in the Mount Clutha mine through his connecton by marriage with Vern and Brian Hegarty, two shysters who have hitherto managed to stay within the law by a narrow margin, threatens his political career. Macy calls a Royal Commission.
'A dramatic climax is reached, and the final scene is played out in the Golconda to which Macy's thoughts have often turned as a symbol of his youth.
'This last novel of the Golconda trilogy represents, says John Barnes, 'a final, deeply considered statement of a man who saw life steadily and saw it whole.'" (Publication summary)
'To the Islands concerns the ordeal of Stephen Heriot, an elderly, careworn, and disillusioned Anglican missionary who abandons his mission when he mistakenly believes he has accidentally killed one of his Aboriginal charges in a not entirely unprovoked confrontation. Heriot flees into the desert not to escape justice but to embrace its desolate beauty and its elemental purity as the one objective reality and the one certainty left available to him.
Heriot's flight and his embrace of the desert may be seen as his attempt, as a European Australian, to immerse himself in the landscape, to make himself one with the land. At this realistic level, the novel enacts the ontological and existential dilemma that confronts most — if not all — European Australians, the dilemma that Professor Hassall [in his introduction to the 2002 UQP Australian Authors version] defines as the continuing quest for psychic integration, for reconciliation with indigenous Australians, and with the land itself.'
Wells-Green, James. [Untitled Review.] JAS Review of Books 15 (May 2003)
'Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naïve young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent. As hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his power to endure and to lead, his attachment to Laura gradually increases. Laura, waiting in Sydney, moves through the months of separation as if they were a dream and Voss the only reality.
'From the careful delineation of Victorian society to the sensitive rendering of hidden love to the stark narrative of adventure in the Australian desert, Patrick White's novel is a work of extraordinary power and virtuosity.'
Source: Random House Books (Sighted 21/09/2012)