"This is the exuberant story of Lilian Singer - a splendidly eccentric woman - and the life she made.
"Lilian strides through her life reciting Shakespeare for a shilling, using reluctant taxi drivers as her private charioteers, falling in love with 'Lord Kitchener'. Magnificently self-confident, she can say at the end: 'I am ready for whatever comes next.'
"Lilian's is a big story in every sense - the story of a woman who is larger than life because she is her own grandest invention."
"Kate Grenville has transformed an Australian myth into a dazzling fiction of universal appeal. It is a pleasure to be able to praise a true novelist." - Patrick White
"A very moving and sometimes funny novel...The surprises and flourishes are in the evocative and poetic writing of the episodes every one of which reveals some detail of human frailness..." - Elizabeth Jolley
It was a wild night in the year of Federation that the birth took place. Horses kicked down their stables. Pigs flew, figs grew thorns. The infant mewled and stared and the doctor assured the mother that a caul was a lucky sign. A girl? the father exclaimed, outside in the waiting room, tiled as if for horrible emergencies. This was a contingency he was not prepared for, but he rallied within a day and announced, Lilian. She will be called Lilian Una.
Later, her mother lay on her white bed at home, her palms turned up, staring at the moulding of the ceiling with the expression of surprise she wore for the next twenty years. You didn't tell me it would hurt, she whispered to her friends as they patted the crocheted bed jacket, and she was already beginning to suffer her long overlapping series of indispositions. The friends picked up the baby from its crib beside the bed and placed it in the mother's arms. A lovely picture, they agreed, and left.
From the Allen & Unwin paperback edition, 1986.
This novel won the Australian/Vogel Award in 1984.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2002 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Kate Grenville page.
Last modified: May 2, 2002.