Monday, March 31, 2014

Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family by Gabrielle Carey

Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family
Gabrielle Carey
UQP, 2013

100+ Challenge

About The Book
Longlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize.

As her mother Joan lies dying, Gabrielle Carey writes a letter to Joan’s childhood friend, the reclusive novelist Randolph Stow. This letter sets in motion a literary pilgrimage that reveals long-buried family secrets. Like her mother, Stow had grown up in Western Australia. After early literary success and a Miles Franklin Award win in 1958 for his novel To the Islands, he left for England and a life of self-imposed exile. 

Living most of her life on the east coast, Gabrielle was also estranged from her family’s West Australian roots, but never questioned why. A devoted fan of Stow’s writing, she becomes fascinated by his connection with her extended family, but before she can meet him he dies. With only a few pieces of correspondence to guide her, Gabrielle embarks on a journey from the red-dirt landscape of Western Australia to the English seaside town of Harwich in a quest to understand her family’s past and Stow’s place in it.

Moving Among Strangers
 is a celebration of one of Australia’s most enigmatic and visionary writers. (from

My Thoughts
The only novel I've read by Randolph Stow so far is Merry-Go-Round in the Sea. We read it for book group a few years ago and I remember being impressed by his writing. There is something about Western Australian writers and their way with words!  I also felt a bit of a connection with him when I found out that we share a birth day and month and that he was interested in the shipwreck of the Batavia.

After reading Moving Among Strangers, I really want to read more of his writing and to find out more about him. It is such as shame that most of his books are out of print... and that there are so many books that I want to read. 

The book isn't really about Randolph Stowe, it's about how Gabrielle Carey got to know her mother through her relationship with Randolph. I haven't read her previous book about her relationship with her mother, but I'll add it to my To Be Read list.

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