Conditions of Faith
"Conditions of Faith is the long-awaited major new work by one of Australia's leading novelists.
"When Alex Miller's mother died she left him her fragmentary journal from the 1920s. Inspired by her exotic tales as a young woman living in Paris and this entree into her emotional life, Miller has written Conditions of Faith.
"With university behind her, Emily Stanton finds herself on the threshold of life. Introduced to a Scottish engineer, the exoticism of his life in Paris beckons, and she leaves her family home in twenties Melbourne to become his wife. But far from providing answers, her conventional marriage awakens in her an ardent desire to find a reason for living beyond that of simply wife and mother, a desire that leads her to flirt with risk, passion and unorthodox friendships, and carries her to Tunisia on a journey of self-questioning and intellectual reawakening.
"Conditions of Faith is a provocative romance, but it is also an elegant and intellectually abundant meditation on a timeless dilemma. Impetuous yet entirely sympathetic, Emily Stanton, like Henry James' Isabel Archer, is in search of a reason for living in a society where motherhood is deemed reason enough. This mesmerising and thought-provoking story of dreams, obsessions and destiny will hold you in thrall."
"My private acid test of a literary work is whether, having read it, it lingers in my mind afterward Conditions of Faith fulfils that criterion; I am still thinking about Emily." - Colleen McCullough
When Emily reached the warm shallows she stood up and waded to the edge of the sand where she had left her towel. As she came to the shore through the soft lapping of the water she reached and pulled off her bathing cap and shook out her long brown hair. At the sand she bent and picked up her towel then turned and stood looking back out to sea, her hand raised shielding her eyes from the glare off the water. Two hundred yards offshore her father was stroking a steady overarm toward the partly submerged wreck, his solitary advance breaking the silvery membrane of the sea. The air was still and hot, the bay luminous and flat in the afternoon sunlight. Farther down the beach toward the yacht club with its thicket of bare masts, isolated bathers stood about listlessly in the shallows gazing out to sea or toward the beach. Far out a white-hulled passenger liner was steaming slowly toward the port past anchored cargo vessels; the grey smoke from its twin funnels was pencilled against the white of the sky and stretched behind it over the horizon. The sharp cries of children at play carried to Emily and somewhere behind her in the tea-trees that grew thickly along the slope below the road a dog barked repeatedly. Already the cooling effect of her swim was wearing off and the heat beginning to press down on her. She watched until her father reached the wreck, waiting until he turned and began the return swim, then she started up the beach toward the tea-trees and the line of gaily painted bathing boxes.
From the Allen and Unwin hardback edition, 2000.
This novel was shortlisted for the 2001 Miles Franklin Award.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2001-04 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Alex Miller Page.
Last modified: December 15, 2004.