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Two literary lives defined by storytelling and secrets 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 mother, 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 to understand her family's past and Stow's place in it.

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