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Shell 1

by Kristina Olsson
Publication Date: 01/10/2018
4/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $35.00 $24.75

A big, bold and hauntingly beautiful story that captures a defining moment in Australia's history.

Everywhere he looked he saw what Utzon saw. The drama of harbour and horizon, and at night, the star-clotted sky. It held the shape of the possible, of a promise made and waiting to be kept…

In 1965 as Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s striking vision for the Sydney Opera House transforms the skyline and unleashes a storm of controversy, the shadow of the Vietnam War and a deadly lottery threaten to tear the country apart.

Journalist Pearl Keogh, exiled to the women’s pages after being photographed at an anti-war protest, is desperate to find her two missing brothers and save them from the draft. Axel Lindquist, a visionary young glass artist from Sweden, is obsessed with creating a unique work that will do justice to Utzon’s towering masterpiece.

In this big, bold and hauntingly beautiful portrait of art and life, Shell captures a world on the brink of seismic change though the eyes of two unforgettable characters caught in the eye of the storm.

And reminds us why taking a side matters.

"A beautifully crafted novel about a fascinating time in our history. There is a luminous precision in every sentence." Heather Rose, award-winning author of The Museum of Modern Love

"Shell is a brilliant and beautiful novel, full of lyrical grace and sensitive observation. There’s a special joy in its attention to creativity, family love and the complex dignity of labour. And at its centre: the Sydney Opera House; not simply an icon, but reimagined as art object, aspiration, and a kind of international dream…" Gail Jones, award-winning author of Five Bells and The Death of Noah Glass

Contemporary fiction
Publication Date:
Simon & Schuster Australia
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):

Kristina Olsson

Kristina Olsson is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir won the 2014 Kibble Literary Award, the 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Award, the 2013 Queensland Literary Award and the 2014 Western Australia Premier’s Literary Award.

It was shortlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize, the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and the 2013 Australian Human Rights Commission Literature Award. Her other works include the biography, Kilroy Was Here, and novels In One Skin and The China Garden

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

4 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • The story of the Sydney Opera House

    by on

    This was fascinating! I had never really looked at the Sydney Opera House before and thought about it. It’s such an iconic building and image that you think you’d recognise it, but what a view I got from this novel!

    The fact that the architect was Danish…again something else I didn’t know and so I was thrilled to read about him in the novel and then to head over to the trusty internet to find more of his story on the Opera House website. There’s so much to this story and one which I feel the author has woven into a very good fictional novel.

    The writing is just lovely and the threads of symbolism are beautifully woven with images of water and light. Much of what we see is through the eyes of the Glass sculptor Axel and so this works so well, evoking the essence and feel of the building and the art of glass work. The setting of course is made up of both!

    There’s a lot going on in the background too with this novel and the time and place are evoked through world wide events such as the Vietnam war and what this meant for those who were involved. The war was far away but yet so close and the repercussions caused more than ripples in the waters here.

    It’s an extremely lyrical novel full of nuances and shades of various tones depending on how you view it. I imagine reading this beside a window with the sun streaming through couldn’t give any more colour to this book.

    It’s like looking at a stained glass window and gradually seeing the wonders in front of you.