THE TRANSIT OF VENUS book cover   The Transit of Venus
Shirley Hazzard

Cover illustration by Renate Belina

Dustjacket synopsis:
"Two sisters, Grace and Caro Bell, emigrate to England from Australia in the 1950s, in search of new lives.

"Within the larger world of ideological clashes and social hunger, the sisters make their individual journeys towards middle age. For Caro, whose destiny is to love and be loved, the price includes betrayal. For Grace, who risks less, knowledge tempered with anguish comes too late.

"Through their lovers, marriages, jobs, children - and through their failures - a whole landscape of change and transit can be glimpsed. Luminously and stringently written, characterised by a probing, acerbic intelligence, this vibrant, challenging novel is a brilliant exploration of love and its power to transform and transcend."

"An almost perfect novel" - The New York Times
"A novel which is besotted with beauty" - Observer
"Sumptuous...impeccable" - The Times

First Paragraph

By nightfall the headlines would be reporting devastation.

It was simply that the sky, on a shadeless day, suddenly lowered itself like an awning. Purple silence petrified the limbs of trees and stood crops upright in the fields like hair on end. Whatever there was of fresh white paint sprang out from downs or dunes, or lacerated a roadside with a streak of fencing. This occurred shortly after midday on a summer Monday in the south of England.

As late as the following morning, small paragraphs would even appear in newspapers having space to fill due to a hiatus in elections, fiendish crimes, and the Korean War - unroofed houses and stripped orchards being given in numbers and acreage; with only lastly, briefly, the mention of a body where a bridge was swept away.

From the King Penguin paperback edition, 1983.

This novel was the winner of the USA National Book Critics' Award in 1980.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: November 27, 2001.