‘Remarkable first novel... vividly written, almost painterly' -- The New York Times Book Review
‘Full of lush, mesmerising detail' -- The New Yorker
'Emily Bitto writes so well about art, childhood, infatuation, loneliness--you name it. The Strays is a knowing novel, and beautifully done.' -- Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings
'...an immensely pleasurable read.' -- Bookseller + Publisher
'Emily Bitto has written a very stylish and enjoyable debut novel.' -- The Sunday Mail
'...a marvellously accomplished and assured debut... Rich in atmosphere and beautifully observed.' -- Caroline Baum, Booktopia
On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends one of the daughters of infamous painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are trying to escape the conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live at their home. Lily becomes infatuated with this wild, bohemian lifestyle and longs to truly be a part of the family. But as the years pass, Lily observes the way the lives of these artists come to reflect their art. Yet it's not Evan, but his own daughters, who pay the price for his radicalism. Almost 30 years later, Lily contemplates the ordinary path her own life took, how she has played it safe, but does freedom come at a cost? Brought together once more, this is a story of the impact of loss, devotion and obsession, and the demise of one family.
Shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown 2017 - Winner of the Stella Prize 2015 - Winner of the Tina Kane Emergent Writers Award - University of Canberra 'Book of the Year' 2016 - Long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award - Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript - Shortlisted for the Dobbie Literary Award - Shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction - Shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Prize for New Writing - Shortlisted for an Amazon Rising Star Award - Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction