In the tradition of The Hours and Revolutionary Road, an “exquisite meditation on motherhood, marriage, and the meaning of home” (The New York Times Book Review), set in England, Australia, and India in the early 1960s.
The only thing harder than losing home is trying to find it again.
Cambridge, 1963. Charlotte is struggling. With motherhood, with the changes brought on by marriage and parenthood, with never having the time or energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, cannot face the thought of another English winter. A brochure slipped through the mailbox—Australia brings out the best in you—gives him an idea.
Charlotte is too worn out to resist, and before she knows it they are traveling to the other side of the world. But upon their arrival in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light on the couple and gradually reveals that their new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte barely recognizes herself in this place where she is no longer a promising young artist, but instead a lonely housewife venturing into the murky waters of infidelity. Henry, an Anglo-Indian, is slowly ostracized at the university where he teaches poetry. Subtle at first, the ostracism soon invades his entire sense of identity.
Trapped by nostalgia, Charlotte and Henry are both left wondering if there is any place in this world where they truly belong. Which of them will make the attempt to find out? Who will succeed?
“An exquisite and clear-eyed story of the ambiguities of love and creativity, motherhood and migration…It’s a thing of beauty and honesty, as big as the whole unmoored world, and as particular as a family’s moments and moods,” says Ashley Hay, author of The Railwayman’s Wife.
A beautiful, harrowing portrait of mental illness and the endless search for home, this sophomore novel by Bishop (The Singing) depicts a gripping psychological descent that touches on the saddest of truths: once you leave, you can never truly find home again. Painter Charlotte Blackwood thrives in the gray winters of 1960s England, until the birth of her first child spirals her into a disoriented, heartbroken world of postpartum depression and loss of self. Her husband, Henry, an Anglo-Indian professor who has never felt at home in England, receives a brochure about emigration to Australia, and decides that this is what the family needs to make a new start. Overtired and pregnant again, Charlotte reluctantly agrees, and within a few years, the family is resettled in the Perth countryside. But all is not as Henry hoped: he is met with racism at his new university. Henry's questioning of his identity slowly consumes him until he can't complete the book he's writing, or get through his lectures without drifting. Charlotte, as lost as ever, finds solace in a neighbor's friend, Nicholas, as she longs for England and sinks ever deeper into a world of infidelity to find herself. Full of excellent prose, especially in descriptions of landscapes, this story leaves its characters and readers wondering what is at the root of identity and nostalgia, and what a sense of home really means.