Title: Desire Lines
Author: Felicity Volk
Published: February 25th 2020
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Rating: 5 stars
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.
‘There was no right life and there was no wrong one either. There was just life. You did the best you could. You made the best decisions possible with what you knew at the time. It didn’t mean you lived without regrets, but it was necessary to keep these in tolerable proportion, to be prepared to let them go after they had served their purpose.’
Felicity Volk, an Australian author with a background in foreign policy, presents Desire Lines, which follows the release of her previous novel, Lightning in 2013. Desire Lines is the story of two individuals, Paddy and Evie, who we follow from childhood to adulthood. Each has troubled lives, but Paddy’s story is particularly bleak, truthful and utterly heartbreaking. The leads seem to spin around each other, but they also manage to come together for a time, only to be pulled apart again. The love between the leads traverses place, time, circumstance, position and life’s punishing setbacks. This union left a stain on my heart. Desire Lines is punctuated by poetic prose, which is tempered by strong imagery. I was able to absorb each perfectly formed word supplied by Volk, who is a true literary scholar. Desire Lines issues the reader with insightful references to botany, architecture, government policy, history and world events. I was visibly moved by the themes presented in Volk’s book, from family violence, poverty, parentage, abandonment, child migration, abuse, trauma, infidelity, lust, longing, trust, belief and most importantly, the keynote motif of desire. A few sleepless nights went with my experience of reading Desire Lines, it was haunting, yet deeply profound.
Desire Lines by Felicity Volk is published by Hachette Australia on February 25th 2020. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of Desire Lines, Felicity Volk, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Better Reading/Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Desire Lines is book #17 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge