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In Certain Circles : Longlisted for the 2015 Miles Franklin Award - Elizabeth Harrower

In Certain Circles

Longlisted for the 2015 Miles Franklin Award

By: Elizabeth Harrower

Paperback | 25 March 2015 | Edition Number 2

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"Magnificently sad and funny...the best skewering of life between the sexes since Mary McCarthy’s The Group."—Boston Globe ('Best Books of 2015')

"Watchful, witty, unillusioned, exultant…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

"Like a treasure from an unearthed time capsule."—The Wall Street Journal

"I can't recommend this brilliant, austere writer strongly enough . . . Harrower is funny and elegant and devastating."—James Wood, The New Yorker

"Subtle yet wounding, and very much alive."—The Guardian

"Harrower evokes the waste and futility of a decadent class with all the bite and poignancy of F. Scott Fitzgerald."—Eimear McBride, New Statesman

"Harrower can pierce your heart."—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

Zoe Howard is seventeen when her brother, Russell, introduces her to Stephen Quayle. Aloof and harsh, Stephen is unlike anyone she has ever met. His sister, Anna, is shy and thoughtful. Zoe and Russell, Stephen and Anna: they come from different social worlds but the four of them will spend their lives moving in and out of each other's shadow. Set amid the lush gardens and grand stone houses of Sydney Harbour, In Certain Circles is an intense psychological drama about family and love, tyranny and freedom.

Elizabeth Harrower published only four novels in her short but brilliant career. This fifth novel was completed in 1971, but withdrawn from publication at the last minute. The manuscript languished in the National Library of Australia archives for forty years before Michael Heyward of Text Publishing was allowed to read it. He knew immediately that it must be published. In Certain Circles has been lauded internationally, and its publication coincides with a massive resurgence of interest in Harrower's work.

Industry Reviews
'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 *
'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 *
'Exceptional' * West Australian *
'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 *

Miles Franklin 2015 longlist

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