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by Alex Miller

Strangers did not, as a rule, find their way to Chez Dom, a small Tunisian cafe in Paris. Run by the widow Houria and her young niece, Sabiha, the cafe offers a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers at the great abattoirs of Vaugirard who, as with Houria and Sabiha themselves, have grown used to the smell of blood in the air. When one day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm, a tragic love story begins to unfold.

Years later, while living a quiet life in suburban Melbourne, John Patterner is haunted by what happened to him and Sabiha at Vaugirard. He confides his story to Ken, an ageing writer, who sees in John’s account the possibility for one last simple love story. When Ken tells his daughter this she reminds him, ‘Love is never simple, Dad. You should know that.’ He does know it. But being the writer he is, he cannot resist the lure of the story.

Told with all Miller’s distinctive clarity, intelligence and compassion, Lovesong is a pitch-perfect novel, a tender and enthralling story about the intimate lives of ordinary people. Like the truly great novelist he is, Miller locates the heart of his story in the moral frailties and secret passions of his all-too-human characters.

Winner of The Age Book of the Year & NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.


“It takes a very good writer indeed to get away with a title such as Lovesong, and Alex Miller does it triumphantly. His story is at once exotic and homely, telling of the sweetness of love and the sometimes awful cost of it to those caught up in its toils.”  John Banville

“The usual remark to be made about novels that rely on simplicity to generate their effects is that such clarity is deceptive. But with an author such as Miller – whose prose reads clear as running water, and whose insights into the ethics of storytelling, the sadness of ageing and the motions of the heart are laid out with such directness – perhaps simplicity really is the aim and the end. It is the intricate yet enduring mechanism of a successful marriage that is truly complex; Miller’s fiction is the pellucid medium through which that complexity gleams.”   Geordie Williamson, The Monthly

Lovesong explores, with compassionate attentiveness, the essential solitariness of people…With Lovesong, one of our finest novelists has written perhaps his finest book.”   Peter Pierce, The Age

“Alex Miller returns to the realms of romance and desire, longing and solitariness, transience and creativity in his new deep, yet playful novel Lovesong; sure to appeal widely through its astute charm and emotional essence … Miller is that rare writer who engages the intellect and the emotions simultaneously, with a creeping effect.”   Australian Bookseller & Publisher

“Miller’s brilliant, moving novel captures exactly that sense of a storybuilt life – wonderful and terrifying in equal measure, stirring and abysmal, a world in which both heaven and earth remain present, yet stubbornly out of reach.”   Guy Rundle, Sunday Age

“Alex Miller’s beautiful Lovesong is anything but a simple love story … Lovesong is a ravishing, psychologically compelling work from one of our best.”   Courier Mail

“This is a vintage performance … [Miller] writes with uncanny insight about women and with loving detachment about men.”   Morag Fraser, Sydney Morning Herald






Book Club Notes
01 November, 2009

About Alex Miller

Alex Miller is twice winner of Australia's premier literary prize, The Miles Franklin Literary Award, first in 1993 for The Ancestor Game and again in 2003 for Journey to the Stone Country. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, in 1993 for The Ancestor Game. His fifth novel, Conditions of Faith, won the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the 2001 New South Wales Premier's Awards. In 2011 he won this award a second time with his novel LovesongLovesong also won the People's Choice Award in the NSW Premier's Awards, the Age Book of the Year Award and the Age Fiction Prize for 2011. In 2007 Landscape of Farewell was published to wide critical acclaim and in 2008 won the Chinese Annual Foreign Novels 21st Century Award for Best Novel and the Manning Clark Medal for an outstanding contribution to Australian cultural life. It was also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, the ALS Gold Medal and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Alex is published internationally and widely in translation and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.


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