One Life is an act of great imaginative sympathy, a daughter’s intimate account of the patterns in her mother’s life. It is a deeply moving homage by one of Australia’s finest writers.
Nance was a week short of her sixth birthday when she and Frank were roused out of bed in the dark and lifted into the buggy, squashed in with bedding, the cooking pots rattling around in the back, and her mother shouting back towards the house: Goodbye, Rothsay, I hope I never see you again!
When Kate Grenville’s mother died she left behind many fragments of memoir. These were the starting point for One Life, the story of a woman whose life spanned a century of tumult and change. In many ways Nance’s story echoes that of many mothers and grandmothers, for whom the spectacular shifts of the twentieth century offered a path to new freedoms and choices. In other ways Nance was exceptional. In an era when women were expected to have no ambitions beyond the domestic, she ran successful businesses as a registered pharmacist, laid the bricks for the family home, and discovered her husband’s secret life as a revolutionary.
Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s finest writers. Her bestselling novel The Secret River has been published in more than twenty countries. It has received numerous awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. The companion memoir, Searching for the Secret River, was released in 2006.
The Idea of Perfection won Britain’s prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, and her other novels include Sarah Thornhill, The Lieutenant, Lilian’s Story, Dark Places and Joan Makes History.
As well as her novels and a collection of short stories, Grenville has published three books about the writing process, one co-written with novelist Sue Woolfe. The Writing Book, Writing From Start to Finish and Making Stories have become classics both for writing classes and individuals. Grenville has also written a memoir, Searching for The Secret River, an account of the research and writing of the novel for which she’s best-known.
The Lieutenant, The Secret River, and her most recent novel, Sarah Thornhill together make up The Colonial Trilogy, novels which explore Australia’s often troubled past.
Grenville was born in Sydney and has lived in the UK, France and the USA. She has been awarded many honours, including an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of NSW. For many years she taught Creative Writing in universities, but she now writes full-time. In her leisure hours she enjoys attempting to play the cello in an amateur orchestra and a string quartet. She lives in Sydney with her family.