In Certain Circles is the long-lost final novel by the internationally acclaimed author of The Watch Tower.
Zoe Howard is seventeen when her brother, Russell, introduces her to Stephen Quayle. Aloof and harsh, Stephen is unlike anyone she has ever met, a weird, irascible character out of some dense Russian novel. His sister, Anna, is shy and thoughtful, a little orphan.
Zoe and Russell, Stephen and Anna: they may come from different social worlds but all four will spend their lives moving in and out of each other's shadow.
Set amid the lush gardens and grand stone houses that line the north side of Sydney Harbour, In Certain Circles is an intense psychological drama about family and love, tyranny and freedom.
Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. Her first novel, Down in the City, was published in 1957, followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1960 she published The Catherine Wheel, the story of an Australian law student in London. The Watch Tower appeared in 1966. She is without doubt among the most important writers of the postwar period in Australia.
'Harrower can pierce your heart.' Michael Dirda, Washington Post
'A scandalously overlooked writer.' Michelle de Kretser
'Utterly hypnotic.' Eimear McBride, Irish Times
'She is brilliant on power, isolation and class.' Ramona Koval, Australian
'At the very heart of Harrower's oeuvre is a Dostoyevskyan existentialism: a fascination with the limits of the self and what pours in to fill the void when that is lacking. How wonderful it is to have another dose of that unsettling, strangely emphatic novelistic voice.' Delia Falconer, Australian
'Harrower's spare prose is best read with careful concentration; it's easy to miss a brilliant observation or original turn of phrase.' Readings
'There is a masterful economy in Harrower's sketches of people and place, and there is a swiftness in the way she moves her characters through time and space...In Certain Circles is a mirror held up to Sydney's skies, reflecting their endless, incomparable blue.' Geordie Williamson, Monthly
'A novel of astonishing psychological insight exploring the darker aspects of human attraction...Her great strength as a writer is the frequency with which she captures human behaviour in a few deft words...Despite the 40-year delay in publication, Harrower's subject is timeless: the intentional and unintentional damage we inflict on those we love.' Saturday Paper
'The book is enriched by much that lies just beneath the surface and is taken in almost subliminally...all contribute to both the plot and the deeper themes of the novel with an unobtrusive and economical artistry that is very satisfying.' Adelaide Advertiser
'This is not a comfortable book. It is tight, intense, concentrated, powerful - almost hypnotic. The peeling back of the rituals and beliefs we rely on to survive, the brilliant anatomising of relationships, is reminiscent of Katherine Mansfield, but Harrower leaves us, perhaps, with more room for hope.' Weekend Press
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This previously unpublished novel cements writer Elizabeth Harrower’s place in the pantheon of Australian fiction. With its forceful poeticism, complicated characters and piercing psychological insight, In Certain Circles is a striking tale that examines the social inequities of post–World War II Sydney. Siblings Zoe and Russell Howard benefit from their intellectual parents’ privilege, but their increasingly intense relationships with two orphans—political firebrand Stephen Quayle and his daydreamy sister, Anna—rattle their ordered sense of the world.