Genre: Autobiographical Fiction
This is my current read and my first Alex Miller. During my time at the bookstore I never got around to reading any of Miller’s books because I felt that if everyone else was reading him….I should read something else.
For those who are unfamiliar with this author Alex Miller is a well-known Australian author who has won the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award twice as well as many other writing awards for his works. Some of his works include ‘The Ancestor Game’ and ‘Journey to the Stone Country’.
His latest work ‘A Passage of Love’ is based on his own life, specifically his first marriage in his twenties when he worked as a stockman in Victoria and was desperately working to become a writing.
The story that starts in the 1950s when Robert Croft arrives in Melbourne with the ambition to become a writer. While working a stockman in far North Queensland Robert meets the beautiful, well-educated and rich Lena. To Lena, this man is handsome and comes from an exotic world far beyond anything she’s ever experienced. Soon the strains of a deeply troubled relationship begin to surface- Robert’s obsession with becoming a writer and Lena’s desperation to leave the confides of strict middle-class upbringing. It describes itself as a story of ‘the dread and bliss of youthful love’
It’s a period of incredible loneliness and sadness despite this intense love because Lena studies in Melbourne and Robert works on a farm. Lena’s struggle was much harder because she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life but that first year had a sense of liberty and freedom that can rarely ever been experienced i.e. the life the of a writer.
Immediately I can feel the refined eloquence of the writing but it could do with a bit more editing. This very common with award winning authors- as the years progress the books get thicker as the expectations start to arise so cutting and slimming down doesn’t seem to be a priority- that’s what I noticed through my years at the bookstore.
Miller describes himself as being very vulnerable with writing this book but by being honest and by describing what they’re doing and what sort of people they are. He’s been working on this novel for 20 years.
The book’s described as autobiographical fiction, a phrase first coined by Virginia Woolfe with ‘To the Lighthouse’.
It’s a story that explores the concepts of masculinity, marriage and trust and though I’m not yet halfway through I’m fascinated to see where the story takes me- albeit as someone in their early twenties it makes me question getting married anytime soon…
If you’ve read this or something similar I’d love to hear your thoughts!