"It should have been a perfect summer, but for Louise and Rennie their dreamhouse is the stuff of nightmares. The ceiling crumbles under the weight of hot tiles, and the rooms reek of mould and mice. In a decaying Tuscan villa, Louise contemplates the ruin of her marriage. she and Rennie had glittered at chic London parties, but now they are alone together and Louise longs for escape.
"Across the valley stands another villa, home of the smooth, secretive Daniel, Hugo and Viola. Their urbane, artful lives intimidate, confuse, then fascinate Louise. As the long, hot summer progresses, Louise's life begins to ripen with new and unconventional possibilities.
"Kate Grenville's extraordinary, disturbing new novel evokes the mystery and menace underpinning everyday life."
"This compelling novel is packed with surprises and flourishes. Once you start to read Dreamhouse it is impossible to put it aside." - Elizabeth Jolley
"This is a terrifically physical novel..." - Helen Garner
"A triumph...it has the commanding tone of a dream." - Peter Porter
"Here is someone who can really write." - Peter Carey
My husband was a vain man with a thick orange moustache who loved to look at his beautiful wife, slim like a model and striking on the streets. Look, people nudged each other. Look at her! He liked to see them nudge each other, and liked to watch me across tables or from the far side of a room, pleased with his thick orange moustache and his striking wife. As for myself, I was a woman full of greed: my husband, whose name was Reynold, was soon to be a professor with an income and a position, while I could never be anything wealthier than a striking secretary with lovely legs and little future.
We drove towards our summer in Tuscany, taking wrong turnings in three countries and asking directions of wooden-faced locals who gestured vaguely down the road. We had been looking forward to our summer in Italy, although I had wondered if Rennie's vanity and my greed would survive a foreign summer, alone with each other for so long. Here there would be no parties or streets where we could glitter. Rennie had joked about it: Think you'll be putting cyanide in my tea by August, darling? as if he was not sure either, behind his powerful moustache.
We kept asking for Aretta, as Daniel had told us to. But all those leathery farmers, and their wives with aprons full of beans, shook their heads blankly. At last Rennie lost patience with peasants who refused to understand his version of Italian, and drove fast along the narrow lanes, turning right and left at random, thrusting his chin out in a way he did when life was misbehaving. Finally, at the top of a hill we saw the same view of Florence for the third time, and he agreed to stop and let me try asking the way.
From the UQP hardback edition, 1986.
This novel was a runner-up for the Australian/Vogel Award in 1983.
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Last modified: December 20, 2004.