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Erica Marsden’s son, an artist, has been imprisoned for homicidal negligence. In a state of grief, Erica cuts off all ties to family and friends, and retreats to a quiet hamlet on the south-east coast near the prison where he is serving his sentence.
There, in a rundown shack, she obsesses over creating a labyrinth by the ocean. To build it—to find a way out of her quandary—Erica will need the help of strangers. And that will require her to trust, and to reckon with her past.
The Labyrinth is a hypnotic story of guilt and denial, of the fraught relationship between parents and children, that is also a meditation on how art can both be ruthlessly destructive and restore sanity. It shows Amanda Lohrey to be at the peak of her powers.
‘The story of Richard Kline is marked by a…luminous wit, along with the quiet courage of a mind willing to countenance mysteries that our secular age refuses to broach.’
‘Amanda Lohrey is an author of exquisite subtlety and wry humour. Her ability to draw out the quieter nuances of the human condition is evidenced again in A Short History of Richard Kline, in which she has crafted a male character of great depth.’
‘Extraordinarily vivid and compelling…a stunning and memorable novella’
‘Hypnotic and beautiful, The Labyrinth forces us to reckon with how our deepest bonds can inflict the most pain. Amid this coil of darkness, however, is the novel’s unfailing light: that hope and redemption are always found in art and creation.’
‘ The Labyrinth is Amanda Lohrey’s wisest and most intimate novel yet—luminous, full of sharp-edged beauty and illuminating questions about how we should live our lives. It asks, most simply, how to keep going in the wake of a disaster that has no neat ending. This is a novel in which nothing is out of place—every word and image resonates.’
‘Lohrey’s writing is excellent, and she mixes pastoral and gothic tropes beautifully.’
‘A beautiful, brutal book that I experienced as both earthy and unearthly. I loved it.’
‘Not a book to be analysed but a book to experience. It is compelling, visceral and deeply moving…It is delicate yet strong. Painful yet regenerative.’
‘Iridescent…The Labyrinth is a nuanced and engrossing novel of bread and bones broken, the trace and rack of violence, and threads that lead the way out of exile.‘
‘Lohrey’s writing ensures we invest in and understand a mother’s intense need for forgiveness…I do believe that this novel is her very best. It is perfectly balanced and completely masterful. Fans of Alice Munro and Anne Tyler will rejoice in this kind of Australian story.’
‘An unsteadying read of strength, love and brutality that is provocatively inconclusive in its closing. Poetic and enormous.’
‘Amanda Lohrey might be described as a writer’s writer: proficient in short and long form fiction and a veteran of the essay. Her writing is the literature of ideas. Her new novel, The Labyrinth, uses the idea of the labyrinth as its key organising principle, containing echoes and repetitions throughout to weave together a haunting narrative about loss and self-understanding…Lohrey’s descriptions are elegant and transfixing…There is something dreamlike about the novel.’
‘Left me with a sense of clean, clear joyfulness and creativity…it’s a book of ideas, but [Lohrey] delivers in terms of offering revelations and some sort of hope through making things’
‘Beautiful…Quite possibly my favourite Lohrey…One can’t help but think of We Need to Talk About Kevin…but this is far more subtle and intimate.’
‘The Labyrinth is an impressive addition to Lohrey’s body of fiction, which always has philosophical foundations for its warmly human stories. Here the characters and ideas are deftly integrated into a short novel of deep wisdom about nature and art, men and women, motherhood and home…Elegant sentences move with the mindful pace of footsteps on a pathway.’
‘This is a book about being a parent, building or making…as therapy, and the inability to be truly alone in today’s society…The pace of the book reflects the contemplative nature of walking a labyrinth, both the inner one and the physical one that mirrors it.’
‘A deeply meditative book…[Amanda Lohrey’s] writing here is beautifully layered, rich in imagery and meaning, without ever being laboured…The Labyrinth offers a pull towards the unknown and a comfort in solitude. It is a sharply tuned novel, a sprawling narrative that resists rigid expectations, instead allowing those who inhabit the pages to surrender themselves to the mode of “reversible destiny” that it is constructed around.‘
‘Haunting…A meditation on fundamental patterns in nature and in familial relations…[with a] narrative so bracing—like salt spray stinging your face—that one is borne forward inexorably…Taut, deftly edited…The novel’s story is stark, unflinching—gothic without contrivance…Summary does scant justice to the subtlety and power of Lohrey’s writing…Every page of this densely populated novel, with its incised landscape, shimmers.’
‘Amanda’s prose is low-key, unsentimental, economical. The tale unfolds without fanfare but with deft strokes that have the power of leaving some things unsaid…excellent reading for the days when you are shut at home with not enough to do.’
‘This quietly cerebral, emotional and atmospheric story is a gift of hope at a time when so many are struggling with seemingly insurmountable challenges.’
‘[Lohrey’s] storytelling is masterful: honed to pleasing plainness and assured in its measured tempo, her novels would take multiple readings to unpick her craft, which is deft to the point of invisibility at times.’