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Desire Lines

Desire Lines 2

by Felicity Volk

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 25/02/2020

5/5 Rating 2 Reviews
RRP  $32.99 $26.75

An epic story of love and the lies we tell ourselves, from an extraordinary Australian literary talent

Are you still a liar? The crafting of those five words, even without dispatch, left her chilled.

Arctic Circle, 2012. On a lightless day at the end of the polar winter, landscape architect Evie Waddell finds herself exhuming the past as she buries Australian seeds in a frozen mountain vault - insurance against catastrophe.

Molong, 1953. Catastrophe is all seven-year-old Paddy O'Connor has known. Shipped from institutional care in London to an Australian farm school, his world is a shadowy place where lies scaffold fragile truths and painful memories. To Paddy's south in Canberra, young Evie is safe in her family's embrace, yet soon learns there are some paths from which you can't turn back; impulses and threats that she only half understands but seems to have known forever.

Blue Mountains, 1962. From their first meeting as teenagers at a country market, Paddy and Evie grow a compulsive, unconventional love that spans decades, taking them in directions neither could have foreseen.

Set against the uneasy relationship society has with its own truth-telling in history, war and politics, DESIRE LINES is an epic story of love and the lies we tell ourselves to survive - and a reminder that even truths which seem lost forever can find their way home.

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Hachette Australia
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):

'Felicity Volk is the real deal' - NIKKI GEMMELL

'Epic, tender, heart-rending - a story resonating in its spectacular landscapes' - INGA SIMPSON

'Genuinely tender, passionate and devastating' Books+Publishing

Felicity Volk

Felicity Volk studied English literature and law at the University of Queensland before joining Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

After diplomatic postings in Bangladesh and Laos, and following the birth of her two daughters, she began writing for publication while continuing to work at DFAT. An award-winning writer of short stories, her first novel, Lightning, was described as 'astonishing ... a propensity of storytelling talent, a bolt of brilliance'.

Felicity lives in Canberra, dividing her time between the world of foreign policy, writing, painting murals, tending the family menagerie and a forbearing garden and the gentle contemplations offered by a soothing pot of tea.

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  • Desire Lines

    by on

    :: Spoiler Alert ::

    A powerful and intense storyline

  • Beautifully written, this is a moving and thought-

    by on

    “When you lie to protect other people, it’s a good lie and you don’t have to confess.”

    Desire Lines is the second novel by Australian author, Felicity Volk. “Are you still a liar?” What could lead to this spite-filled annual text, temporarily unsent, from an arctic ice cave? Almost sixty years earlier, the intended recipient was the seven-year-old son of a sadistic, vicious, controlling father and a helpless mother, living in the poorest parts of mid-twentieth century London; the sender, a botanist’s granddaughter from the suburbs of Australia’s fledgling national capital.

    The distance between these two extremes, traversing orphans transplanted, the polar seed vault, and the architecture of buildings and landscapes, is one filled with love and lust, cruelty and kindness, history and heartache, and, yes, many lies.

    As the daughter of a solicitor and a school teacher, Evelyn Waddell was taught the importance of telling the truth from an early age, even if her grandmother introduced her to the nuances of that sometimes-woolly concept - “Evie concluded that God’s truths were as slippery as the algae growing on the stones in Grandma’s fishpond” - so she feels entitled to honesty.

    For all of his early life, Padraig Ciaran O’Connor has been lied to, and made complicit in lies; the expectation of being served falsehood comes naturally to him, and lying, for the purpose of impressing others, or rationalising his actions (even to himself), is virtually innate. “It wasn’t just that people found truth inconvenient, it was that they found truth painful for the way it took an apparently solid thing and exposed it as a facade.”

    Until a high school teacher recognised his potential, Paddy’s life was a catalogue of cruelty, such that he was convinced of “the inherently untrustworthy nature of happiness.” This disillusionment with life and resignation to misery taints his every decision, and despite his career success, he seems incapable of believing in a happy future.

    Alternating narratives describe significant life events for these two strong but flawed characters: childhood, adolescence, first love, marriage and, eventually, a passionate affair. Volk is a master wordsmith, able to evoke a scene: “From a distance, the undulating lavender rows ran into each other, like purple corduroy, ribbed and velvety” and “Molong and its dry fields, where aspiration was thin-sown, ambition was seldom watered and expectation grew stunted and cowed” and “With her head resting on one of Daddy’s books, she inhaled its grave oldness”; or an emotion like heartbreak: “Da – he said we were millstones around his neck. I asked Father Murray what that meant. He said a millstone is a heavy burden. If I don’t eat cake, I won’t be so heavy.” Beautifully written, this is a moving and thought-provoking read.
    This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Better Reading Preview and NetGalley and Hachette Australia.

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