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The Resource The strays : a novel, Emily Bitto

The strays : a novel, Emily Bitto

Label
The strays : a novel
Title
The strays
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Emily Bitto
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends one of the daughters of infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are trying to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work at their family home. Lily becomes infatuated with this wild, makeshift family and longs to truly be part of it. As the years pass, Lily observes the way the lives of these artists come to reflect the same themes as their art: Faustian bargains and spectacular falls from grace. Yet it's not Evan, but his daughters, who pay the price for his radicalism. An engrossing story of ambitions, sacrifice, and compromised loyalties. --
Member of
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
Stella Prize, 2015.
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ A note from an old friend sparks Lily’s memory, and suddenly it’s the 1930s again in Melbourne. Lily is nine, first meeting Eva, who will become her best friend. Eva’s well-known artist father, Evan, is always busy painting, Lily learns, while Eva’s beautiful mother, Helena, is always busy . . . being glamorous. Lily, fast becoming a witness to all this, is fascinated by the family’s bohemian existence, their house always filled with other artists, some of whom actually live there in a kind of chaotic, de facto artist colony calling itself the Melbourne Modern Art Group. With the adults either occupied or careless, Eva and her two sisters are left on their own—strays, their mother calls them, including Lily in their number, to Lily’s delight. But what seems like a halcyon time changes suddenly when something nearly unimaginable happens, and Lily is left alone and friendless. Soon thereafter the novel flashes forward some 30 years as past and present come together in a melancholy denouement. Winner of Australia’s Stella Prize, Bitto’s novel is a haunting evocation of life-changing friendship. Stylishly written (an elegant woman is “pale and long and light, like a taper”), The Strays is a marvel of setting and characterization, re-creating a time of artistic revolution and personal revelation. Memorable and moving, this is a novel not to be missed. -- Cart, Michael (Reviewed 10/15/2016) (Booklist, vol 113, number 4, p34)
  • The lyrical first novel by Australian Bitto observes the life of a bohemian household in 1930s Melbourne from the point of view of one of the “strays” the artistic Trenthams take in. Narrator Lily, an only child, is eight when she meets Eva, who will be her best friend for years. Bored with her conventional parents, whose idea of a good time is a jigsaw puzzle and a cup of cocoa, she begins to spend weekends with Eva, who lives with her controversial painter father; Eva’s mother, whose inherited wealth supports the household; Eva’s mature older sister, Bea; and her troubled younger sister, Heloise. As the years go by, other artists and their partners join the household. Eva’s father’s status is threatened by a young artist whose works sell better than his, and the parents’ neglect of the children leads to a horrific outcome. Lily, in 1985 a professor of art history, is a thoughtful and articulate observer, aware of her own emotional investment in the family as well as of the many fractures within its seemingly structure. By placing her so firmly in a comfortable future, however, the core story loses much of its suspense, and too many of the novel’s crucial events take place offstage, described rather than depicted. (Jan.) --Staff (Reviewed 10/03/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 40, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ In 1930, eight-year-old Lily becomes instant best friends with Eva Trentham when they enter third grade in Melbourne, Australia. An only child, Lily is delighted to spend every spare moment at the sprawling Trentham enclave, a bohemian household headed by Eva's vulgar, self-centered, brilliant artist father, Evan, and his vigilant wife, Helena, a hot-and-cold maternal presence. Several young artists are drawn to the Trenthams' aura and eventually move in, and Lily herself is absorbed into the household. For a few years, the creative endeavors of the adults around her power an astonishing output of work, but as Lily, Eva, and her two equally beautiful sisters grow into adolescence, sexual tensions and artistic jealousies among the residents lead to a shocking scandal that shreds the household's fragile balance of talent and self-absorption and leads to the implosion of Lily's and Eva's friendship. VERDICT Published in Australia in 2014, this debut novel is a layered tapestry of family half-truths, deceit, and desire stretching across five decades, with blurred lines tangling the lives of Lily and Eva and thwarting Lily's quest for resolution and redemption. Reminiscent of Ian McEwan's Atonement yet uniquely, gorgeously Bitto's own. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/16.]—Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI --Beth Andersen (Reviewed 02/01/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 1, p66)
  • A first novel from Australia about an artist and his wealthy wife living with their three daughters on the creative edge in hidebound 1930s Melbourne.Narrator Lily is the 8-year-old only child of overprotective parents struggling their way through the Depression when she meets Eva Trentham and her two sisters, Bea and Heloise, at her new school. Entranced by Eva but also her glamorous mother, Helena, and painter father, Evan, who don’t mind flouting convention, Lily is soon spending as much time as she can at their estatelike home, which has belonged to Helena’s family for generations. Soon other young artists move in as the Trenthams experiment in creating a free-spirited bohemian utopia. Meanwhile Lily and Eva develop an intensely close friendship; author Bitto is particularly strong at portraying “the depth of intimacy in that first chaste trial marriage between girls.” Drawn to the atmosphere of “carefree detachment” in which Helena and Evan raise their children—Evan unselfconsciously naked much of the time, Helena paying erratic attention to basic needs like food on the table—Lily yearns to be part of the family, not just a friend or guest. But what seems Edenic to Lily becomes increasingly problematic for the Trentham daughters, particularly the youngest, Heloise, whose emotional struggles no one takes seriously until too late. The dangers of the Trentham's creative neglect come to fruition when the girls blossom into puberty in close proximity to attractive male artists in their 20s. From the first page, a middle-aged Lily lets the reader know “it all fell apart.” The novel is framed within Lily’s preparations to attend a 1985 museum retrospective of a now-revered Evan’s work, her visit to the now-elderly Trenthams, her first conversation with Eva since their relationship ruptured decades earlier, and her growing if conflicted desire to write a memoir about them all. Bitto adapts a leisurely storytelling pace that matches the period as she explores with quiet passion both the cost of creative life on family and the definition of family itself.(Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2016)
Assigning source
from Affirm Press
Awards note
Stella Prize, 2015
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10320203
Cataloging source
BTCTA
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Bitto, Emily
Dewey number
823/.92
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR9619.4.B588
LC item number
S77 2017
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Children of artists
  • Communal living
  • Ambition
  • Dysfunctional families
  • Australia
Target audience
adult
Label
The strays : a novel, Emily Bitto
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Note
"Originally published in Australia by Affirm Press in 2014"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First U.S. hardcover edition.
Extent
240 pages
Isbn
9781455537723
Lccn
2016944112
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 949219241
  • (OCoLC)949219241
Label
The strays : a novel, Emily Bitto
Publication
Copyright
Note
"Originally published in Australia by Affirm Press in 2014"--Title page verso
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
24 cm
Edition
First U.S. hardcover edition.
Extent
240 pages
Isbn
9781455537723
Lccn
2016944112
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 949219241
  • (OCoLC)949219241

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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