They say we fall in love. But really we fall in sickness. I lost appetite for food in those two nights with Tilda. My stomach was sunken in its wishbone cavity. Me, I was never sick, but I was sick now, the strangest sickness that made my eyes gleam green with excellent health. They had shiny white edges. My cheeks were glossed in a fresh oil of pink.
Colin dreams of escaping his parents’ New Zealand farm for a grand stage career. He makes it to London and a disastrous audition before meeting Tilda—beautiful Tilda, older, an artist—who brings his future with her. A heady romance leads to a new home in a decaying former bank in a small town hours from Melbourne. They are building a life together—but there are cracks in the foundation…
This is a love story, told from passionate beginning to spectacular end. It is intimate and honest, blackly funny and emotionally devastating.
‘All women with lingering illusions about the way men think should read this fast-moving, sharply focused, fantasy-shattering little thunderclap of a book.’
‘I can’t fault this book — the characters are solid and believable, the storyline unpredictable and the rural Australian imagery vivid. The science of love and lust in its many forms is played out convincingly through Colin and Tilda and is not told in an overly soppy or trite way — it’s tangible and that’s what works so well.’
‘Sherborne excels at taking subject matter that has been written about a million times before and making the reader feel as though they are experiencing it for the first time…This is a frank, fun and fearless romantic tale that readers are also bound to fall in love with.’ ****
‘Intelligent and unusual…a perceptive study of self-absorption, of cruelty that chooses not to face itself, the discerning psychological portrait of a numbed heart and conscience.’
‘Darkly comic and scarily true, this is an account of a love affair from the very moment of its conception. The anatomy of love is thoroughly dissected, leaving its seamy underbelly exposed…Acutely observed and richly drawn, this love is not one you would wish on your worst enemy, but it is fascinating, funny and unputdownable until the bitter end.‘
‘In this compelling tale of blossoming and decaying love, [Sherbourne] captures every human moment with deadly honesty and precision. Seldom have I read anything that has shocked me this much…this work is a masterpiece in unreliable narration and the courageous mining of subject matter for hard-hitting substance.’
‘At times this story’s intimacy and pain are so raw, one feels like a voyeur who can’t tear her eyes away. Sherborne’s first novel after his memoirs Hoi Polloi and Muck, this is an unflinching story about passionate love and how it can die…He makes this confronting story enjoyable by lacing it with a biting sense of humour.’
‘The skill Sherborne brings to his dissection in this novel is remarkable. The potent mix of sensuality, physical weakness and self-delusion which draws Tilda and Colin together—and keeps them returning to each other—is compellingly realised, and the self-loathing that comes when physical need overwhelms emotional antipathy is sharply captured.
‘It is the art of fiction to take the raw stuff of life and challenge our illusions about universal truths such as love. The narrative is taut and disturbing in its exposure of the flawed hero’s psyche, and my sympathies were with Tilda, for all her histrionics. Yet Colin’s honesty, his painful awareness of his shoddiness, redeem him and kept me, and may keep you, reading to the end.’
‘A riveting piece of writing that is liable to transfix any reader who gets past the opening chapter…Sherborne is a breathtaking writer because he writes of unspeakable things with a kind of affectless gaucherie that dazzles the mind…this is an engulfing, heart-stopping book—a performance that dazzles the eyes and leaves the reader gasping for air.’
‘An intense, inexorable story of love’s progress into loathing told in glaring light and amplified sound, raw yet astonishingly controlled…a breathtaking balancing act.’