'Look first. Reach second. Vanish third.'
London, 1825: Eglantine has always had an eye for the shine. Born the same day as the young princess destined to be queen, Eglantine has an altogether different path ahead of her, strewn with the glittering waste of her father's ambitions. Her mysteriously prosperous father, Mr Amberline Stark, is a man of great expectations. He coaxes her to follow in his footsteps, making picking pockets a delightful parlour game which they play in their fine house by the Thames. Eglantine's life before her arrival at the house remains a mystery, her memories wrapped up in a small doll she keeps close to her, and with it the fragmentary recollections of her mother.
It is only when Amberline is caught and transported as a thief to the penal colony of Australia, that Eglantine has to grow up and fend for herself using her only skill. Reluctantly, the thief's daughter becomes a thief, until a chance meeting gives her a window on a new way of being, and the opportunity to strike out into a new and untarnished world. But will the weight of her father's choices make her a prisoner in the house at the side of the Thames?
Birth and death, love and sadness, love knots and cut ties, quicksilver and shine, old worlds and new beginnings, Sandra Leigh Price weaves another gritty and beguiling story that will enchant and delight readers.
Review by Ben Hunter
The River Sings is a novel of a mother and daughter living in a place between magic and reality, amid a clash of Romany tradition and imperial England.
The abandoned Eglantine hears her mother's voice calling to her in the flow of the Thames, while her father, ensnared with a Dickensian set of great expectations, teaches her the way of the pickpocket, a trade that sees him transported to the colony of New South Wales. In a dual narrative, her mother will lose everything to a man who shrugs off the ways of her family in search of the shine of silver and gold.
Readers will be captivated by the mysteries of this novel, where birth and death, love and destruction, become entwined.
About the Author
Sandra Leigh Price lives in Sydney. She graduated from the Australian National University, Canberra, with a Double Major in English Literature and Drama, and co-established a small theatre company before moving to Sydney to pursue a career as an actor, then turning to writing. Wet Ink magazine published an early chapter of The Bird's Child, her debut novel.
Praise for Sandra Leigh Price's The Bird's Child:
'A wonderful, strange, glittering book, full of astounding imagination, glorious really.' - Edward Carey, author of Heap House
'A shimmering dream of haunted pasts. A silver girl. Abandoned boys. All the magic of the stage. The Bird's Child is a delight.' - Essie Fox, author of The Somnambulist
'The Bird's Child is entirely original, its familiar Sydney settings set asparkle and rendered dreamlike by Sandra Leigh Price's lyrical and lovely writing. This is a magical fable that penetrates to deep emotional truths.' - Geraldine Brooks
'This debut novel brings 1920s Sydney to life through a fairytale lens, highlighting the city's romance, its magic and its mystery ... It is the Australian setting that sets this quirky historical romance apart from others of its genre. Price's dream-like portrayal of a bygone Sydney - with its vaudeville shows and opium dens, lyrebirds and swagmen - establishes a unique mood that transforms the local into the exotic, making The Bird's Child a memorable tale.' - Australian Book Review
'Gritty yet enchanting ... often deliciously sumptuous and erotically charged ... unusual, imaginative' - Newtown Review of Books
'Skilfully written and richly imagined' - Sydney Morning Herald
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 24th April 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.4 x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.4