The Diamond Anchor
While living in a shed in Alice Springs, Jennifer wrote this remarkable, cinematic novel which combines twentieth century history with a secret love story.
Set in the fictional NSW town of Coal south of Sydney(closely based on the Illawarra coastal area), this story weaves together the workers' struggles of the coal miners in post WWII Australia with the intimate story of two young women called Grace and May.
Growing up in a small community with traditional working class values, the two young women share a passionate adolescent romance. However, separated by changing circumstances, both women marry. While Grace travels the world living in New York and London with her university professor husband, May marries a local fisherman and stays in Coal to run her family's hotel, the Diamond Anchor- a dilapidated pub perched at the ocean's edge which her father won in a game of cards. Over the years postcards arrive sporadically from Grace in exotic places.
Despite living on opposite sides of the world, the women's lives are bounded together forever by their shared past and an obligation to keep each other's secrets.
Fifty years after their affair ends, an unexpected letter from adventurer Grace forces May to relive their extraordinary past and confront the events that drove them apart. During that time, May's pub, affectionately called the 'Danker', has been at the heart of the close-knit community of Coal. Now, as an older widow trying to maintain a careful balance between the demands of the collapsing building and her own solitary life, May must finally decide whether to reach out to Grace, whose health is fading, or let her go.
This novel is about the people who stay behind, those who leave and what it means to belong to a place and a community.
It explores ways in which women tell each other's histories, and the ways they are defined by their formative relationships. May writes: 'You're a story, Grace, and stories belong to places, stories live in the earth. You have to come from somewhere. You have to return there, if you want to know anything at all.' Jennifer Mills
is already a name to watch with a number of recent awards for her fiction, including the Mario Eldridge Award for young emerging women writers, the Northern Territory Literacy Award: Best Short Story and 'Winner' of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition (Pacific region). Her work has appeared in Hecate, Overland, HEAT and the Griffith Review and Best Australian Stories 2007.
The Diamond Anchor
University of Queensland Press
Author: Jennifer Mills
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