My 6th novel, a narrative of friendship, obsessive love, intellectual strivings and untimely death, was published by 4th Estate in 2009.
It tells the story of four friends who meet at Melbourne University in the late 1970s. They go on to Oxford for post-graduate studies, after which they go separate ways forging their careers. Twenty years later the friends are reunited in Melbourne, brought together as inaugural fellows of NOGA – the Network of Global Australians.
Ava, long married to Harry, is a successful novelist who carries a lifetime of secrets. At the time of her return to Melbourne she is struggling with her 7th novel. Conrad – Connie – now a celebrity philosopher living in the US, is questioning the seriousness of his work. A serial philanderer, he has also started to question his lifestyle. Helen is a molecular biologist, whose research combatting diarrhoea in some of the world’s poorest locations can also be applied to bioterrorism. And lastly there is Jack, the brightest of them all, whose work in comparative religion has stalled owing to his long and futile obsession with Ava.
They arrive back in Melbourne each with their own problems and concerns. The friendships which they have long taken for granted are put under serious strain. When Ava finds herself caught in the worst of dilemmas it is not her old friends that come to her aid, but rather a secret lover from the past.
Writers have favourites among their works (although their next is always their best). My favourites are FACING THE MUSIC, THE PROSPEROUS THIEF and, yes, REUNION. REUNION is fair but unsentimental towards the characters – Ava, Jack, Connie and Helen – portraying them with all their attractions and all their flaws. And despite serious short-comings, it reveals friendship as sturdier and more forgiving than marriage. I’m rather drawn to that idea. And it plunges into fraught moral territory. There’s a mutually beneficial sexual relationship between a teenager and a much older man, and one of the characters struggles against current laws and restrictions when they believe their life is no longer worth living.
The novel was well-received and there’s plenty to be found online.
Slow TV recorded an on-stage interview conducted by Drusilla Modjeska at the 2009 Sydney Writers’ Festival.