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.
About the Author
Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. She lived in Newcastle until her family moved back to Sydney when she was eleven. In 1951 Harrower travelled to London and began to write. Her first novel, Down in the City, was published there in 1957 and was followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney, where she worked in radio and then in publishing. Her third novel, The Catherine Wheel, appeared in 1960.
Harrower published The Watch Tower in 1966. Four years later she finished a new novel, In Certain Circles, but withdrew it from publication at the last moment, in 1971. It remained unpublished until 2014. In Certain Circles is Harrower's final completed novel, though in the 1970s and 1980s she continued to write short fiction. She is one of Australia's most important postwar writers. She was admired by many of her contemporaries, including Patrick White and Christina Stead, who both became lifelong friends. Her novels are now being acclaimed by a new generation of readers. Harrower lives in Sydney.
'Harrower can pierce your heart.' Michael Dirda, Washington Post 'A scandalously overlooked writer.' Michelle de Kretser 'A coup...weirdly thrilling line by line...[its] dense and adult conversation crackles with a sense of moral urgency.' -- Delia Falconer Australian 'Utterly hypnotic.' Eimear McBride, Irish Times 'She is brilliant on power, isolation and class.' Ramona Koval, Australian 'Her insights into the nature of love, the role of women and the torsions of power in even the most ordinary relationship are bitter and sometimes cruel, wielded in the way that acute honesty may be, like a whip. Yet they are always delivered via the honeyed dipper of her prose.' -- Geordie Williamson Monthly 'A novel of astonishing psychological insight exploring the darker aspects of human attraction.' Saturday Paper 'An exploration of the psychologies of entitlement and deprivation in the context of love.' Book of the Week Adelaide Advertiser 'This is not a comfortable book. It is tight, intense, concentrated, powerful - almost hypnotic.' Weekend Press 'Reading In Certain Circles gave me the thrill that only comes from the work of a major novelist.' -- The Conversation 'In Certain Circles is subtle yet wounding, and very much alive.' Guardian 'A brilliant exploration of relationships, marriage, thwarted passion and the beauty and the price of love.' Herald Sun 'There are many wonderful things in this novel. Harrower's skill in evoking a place is impressive. Her eye for oddities of behaviour, for quirks of character and for patches of pretentiousness is as sure as ever. The wry intelligence of her view of middle-class Australian life is evident throughout. Her writing is characteristically sharp and pithy. Whatever the reason behind her decision not to allow this novel to be released four decades ago, its rebirth is an event to be celebrated.' -- Andrew Reimer SMH/Age/Canberra Times 'With its flavor of Henry James, Harrower's rediscovered story is an odd, brittle yet impressive piece of work that exposes the complex passions beneath a drawing-room-scenario surface.' Kirkus Reviews 'A stark, uncompromising drama of marital imprisonment and psychological manipulation. In its atmosphere of dread and compulsion it has elements of Daphne du Maurier's Gothic suspense novels. But Ms. Harrower's fearsome objectivity and her bristling, beautiful prose come from modernist masters like Katherine Mansfield and Elizabeth Bowen.' Wall St Journal 'Harrower was right about In Certain Circles being well written, but surely wrong to take its superb style for granted, as if mere literary muscle memory. Like the rest of her work, the novel is severely achieved: the coolly exact prose cannot be distinguished from the ashen exhaustion of its tragic fires...The book belongs with her best work, with The Watch Tower and The Long Prospect...[It] is more explicit than Harrower's earlier work about ideological tensions between men and women. It is also broader in scope and not as angry-wiser and less hopeless.' -- James Wood New Yorker 'Harrower evokes the waste and futility of a decadent class with all the bite and poignancy of F. Scott Fitzgerald.' -- Eimear McBride New Statesman 'In Certain Circles [is] a pin-sharp psychological drama about two pairs of siblings, set on the shores of Sydney Harbour. Harrower's searing, spare prose is breathtaking, as is her depiction of dashed promise and the gulf beween the sexes.' -- Di Speirs, BBC Radio Books Editor 'Intensely psychological...exquisitely chiselled prose.' North and South 'For me, the great discovery of 2014 was the work of Elizabeth Harrower.' Favourite Books of 2014, New Yorker 'Elizabeth Harrower's unpublished In Certain Circles finally gets its moment in the sun, and it's been well worth the wait.' Australian Financial Review 'Harrower's prose is watchful, witty, unillusioned, exultant. Its healthful vitality-vivid, accurate, alive to irony-is a dashing stand against its subject matter: human perversity, so often squalid, senseless, swallowing all meaning.' Times Literary Supplement 'An exquisitely crafted story about the impact of love, class and privilege on the quest for personal fulfilment.' Lady 'In this screw-turning, chilling study of a suburban sadist, all the elements of Harrower's oeuvre - fairytale, existentialism, human wasters and willing victims -come together with the perfect inevitability that makes a classic.' Weekend Australian 'A novelist who deserves as wide an audience as possible.' Sunday Age 'There is a note of elegy in all of Harrower's work, even as the adrenaline flows, and a lyricism reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald at his desperate best.' Times Literary Supplement 'Masterful writing...this is a book that demands reading on its own terms, for its unflinching prose and the surgical precision with which it dissects these intertwined lives encircled by their differences.' Newtown Review of Books
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 23rd April 2014
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 13.5 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.45