Book picks similar to
Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville


fiction
australia
historical-fiction
20th-century

The Tree of Man


Patrick White - 1955
    Once the land is cleared and a rudimentary house built, he brings his wife Amy to the wilderness. Together they face lives of joy and sorrow as they struggle against the environment.

Altered States


Anita Brookner - 1996
    Alan Sherwood, a quiet English solicitor, remembers back to a time when he stepped briefly out of character to indulge in a liaison with Sarah Miller, an intriguing but heartless distant relative--only to find himself in a series of absurd situations that culminated in his marriage to Sarah's clinging, childlike friend Angela.With her compassionate portrait of a man who has paid a terrible price for his folly, Anita Brookner gives us a novel that it at once harrowing and humane. In the traditions of Henry James and Thomas Mann, Altered States is a beautifully rendered tale of loneliness, guilt, and erotic obsession.

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea


Randolph Stow - 1965
    Evocative novel set in wartime Australia and its aftermath, seen through the childhood eyes of 6-year-old Rob Coram.

Tirra Lirra by the River


Jessica Anderson - 1978
    Her life has taken her from a failed marriage in Sydney to freedom in London; she forged a modest career as a seamstress and lived with two dear friends through the happiest years of her adult life.At home, the neighborhood children she remembers have grown into compassionate adults. They help to nurse her back from pneumonia, and slowly let her in on the dark secrets of the neighborhood in the years that have lapsed.With grace and humor, Nora recounts her desire to escape, the way her marriage went wrong, the vanity that drove her to get a facelift, and one romantic sea voyage that has kept her afloat during her dark years. Her memory is imperfect, but the strength and resilience she shows over the years is nothing short of extraordinary. A book about the sweetness of escape, and the mix of pain and acceptance that comes with returning home.

The Wanderer


Knut Hamsun - 1905
    His quest is continually frustrated, not least by his susceptibility to the wives and daughters of successive employers.In Under the Autumn Star he joins forces first with Grindhusen, a man blessed with the faith that "something will turn up"; later with Lars Falkenberg, whose dubious talents include the tuning of pianos. Knut and Lars end up as workmen on the estate of a certain Captain Falkenberg (no relation), with whose wife each falls in love. In due course, Knut is laid off and, in futile pursuit of the woman with whom by now he is helplessly infatuated, eventually finds himself sucked back into the city he once fled."A wanderer plays on muted strings," explains Knut, now six years older, "when he reaches the age of two score years and ten." Among this sequel's qualities is the poignancy with which it conveys that sense of aging.Both novels show Hamsun at the height of his powers: lyrical and passionate, ironic yet deeply humane, master of one of the most original prose styles in modern literature, brilliantly translated here by Oliver and Gunnvor Stallybrass.

Coonardoo


Katharine Susannah Prichard - 1929
    The love between Coonardoo and Hugh, which so shocked its readers when the book was first published in 1929, is never acknowledged and so, degraded and twisted in on itself, destroys not only Coonardoo, but also a community that was once peaceful.Daring for its time, this tough, uncompromising novel still raises difficult questions about the history of contact between blacks and whites, and its representation in Australian writing.

The Transit of Venus


Shirley Hazzard - 1980
    Courted long and hopelessly by young scientist, Ted Tice, she is to find that love brings passion, sorrow, betrayal and finally hope. The milder Grace seeks fulfilment in an apparently happy marriage. But as the decades pass and the characters weave in and out of each other's lives, love, death and two slow-burning secrets wait in ambush for them.

As for Me and My House


Sinclair Ross - 1941
    The lights on the street and in the houses against the black wetness, little unilluminating glints that might be painted on it. The town seems huddled together, cowering on a high tiny perch, afraid to move lest it topple into the wind.”The town is Horizon, the setting of Sinclair Ross’ brilliant classic study of life in the Depression era. Hailed by critics as one of Canada’s great novels, As For Me and My House takes the form of a journal. The unnamed diarist, one of the most complex and arresting characters in contemporary fiction, explores the bittersweet nature of human relationships, of the unspoken bonds that tie people together, and the undercurrents of feeling that often tear them apart. Her chronicle creates an intense atmosphere, rich with observed detail and natural imagery.As For Me and My House is a landmark work. It is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand the scope and power of the Canadian novel.

Oscar and Lucinda


Peter Carey - 1988
    It is also a startling and unusual love story. Oscar is a young English clergyman who has broken with his past and developed a disturbing talent for gambling. A country girl of singular ambition, Lucinda moves to Sydney, driven by dreams of self-reliance and the building of an industrial Utopia. Together this unlikely pair create and are created by the spectacle of mid-nineteenth century Australia. Peter Carey's visionary brilliance, and his capacity to delight and surprise, propel this story to its stunning conclusion.

That Eye, the Sky


Tim Winton - 1987
    An extraordinary snapshot of boyhood, That Eye, the Sky is also a powerful exploration of the nature of hope and faith. Ort doesn't have a bad life. He mucks around with his best pal, Fat Cherry; he wonders what his sister Tegwyn's so mad about and why his grandma's disappeared inside herself; he looks up at the sky and thinks it's like a big blue eye looking right back at him. But when Dad isn't back from work when he's supposed to be and a strange car pulls into the drive, Ort's life is thrown into turmoil. Suddenly, Mum doesn't seem as strong as she used to, Fat starts saying bad things, and the stranger knocking on the door seems to know an awful lot about the Flacks.

The Color Purple / The Temple of My Familiar


Alice Walker - 2011
    The novel became an instant classic and has been adapted into a film and musical. Paired here with The Temple of My Familiar, which the author describes as “a romance of the last 500,000 years,” this edition brings together two works that established Walker as a major voice in modern fiction.

Zorrie


Laird Hunt - 2021
    After losing both her parents, Zorrie moved in with her aunt, whose own death orphaned Zorrie all over again, casting her off into the perilous realities and sublime landscapes of rural, Depression-era Indiana. Drifting west, Zorrie survived on odd jobs, sleeping in barns and under the stars, before finding a position at a radium processing plant. At the end of each day, the girls at her factory glowed from the radioactive material.But when Indiana calls Zorrie home, she finally finds the love and community that have eluded her in and around the small town of Hillisburg. And yet, even as she tries to build a new life, Zorrie discovers that her trials have only begun.Spanning an entire lifetime, a life convulsed and transformed by the events of the 20th century, Laird Hunt's extraordinary novel offers a profound and intimate portrait of the dreams that propel one tenacious woman onward and the losses that she cannot outrun. Set against a harsh, gorgeous, quintessentially American landscape, this is a deeply empathetic and poetic novel that belongs on a shelf with the classics of Willa Cather, Marilynne Robinson, and Elizabeth Strout.

Bring Larks And Heroes


Thomas Keneally - 1967
    Thomas Keneally's evocative writing gives us searing insight into the sun-parched settlements of hungry transports and corruptive soldiers. But this is not an 'historical' novel in the usual sense. It is the story of a man, Corporal Phelim Halloran, and of the demands made on him - by his girl, his Irish comrades, his superior officers, and, most often, by his conscience. Innocent and lover, poet, soldier-by-accident, scholar by the standards of his day, Halloran attempts to make a world unto himself. through his pity and love for Ann Rush, his 'secret bride'; but many seem pledged to complicate these simple desires. There is the convict-artist, Thomas Ewers, persecuted and compelled to illustrate the officers' journals. There is Halloran's feckless colleague, Terry Byrne. The convict, Quinn, whose term of imprisonment should have been nearly over. Robert Hearne, political prisoner, government clerk and traitor. Halloran comes to disbelieve in any other existence except his own and God's, until, shockingly and irrevocably, he is reunited with Ann."

Jealousy & In the Labyrinth


Alain Robbe-Grillet - 1959
    “Jealousy,” said the New York Times Book Review “is a technical masterpiece, impeccably contrived.” “It is an exhilarating challenge,” said the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Dirty Dust: Cré na Cille


Máirtín Ó Cadhain - 1949
    Alan Titley’s vigorous new translation, full of the brio and guts of Ó Cadhain’s original, at last brings the pleasures of this great satiric novel to the far wider audience it deserves.   In The Dirty Dust all characters lie dead in their graves. This, however, does not impair their banter or their appetite for news of aboveground happenings from the recently arrived. Told entirely in dialogue, Ó Cadhain’s daring novel listens in on the gossip, rumors, backbiting, complaining, and obsessing of the local community. In the afterlife, it seems, the same old life goes on beneath the sod. Only nothing can be done about it—apart from talk. In this merciless yet comical portrayal of a closely bound community, Ó Cadhain remains keenly attuned to the absurdity of human behavior, the lilt of Irish gab, and the nasty, deceptive magic of human connection.