The Fortress by S. A. Jones is a new novel that introduces us to a fictional world in which men can learn the conditions and consequences of their privilege. It tolls the bells of books such as Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things and Margaret Atwood’s seminal The Handmaid’s Tale.
At 8pm on Friday 13 April authors Kylie Ladd and Fiona Higgins will be joined by S. A. Jones, the Melbourne-based writer who has catapulted onto the Aussie stage with The Fortress. The novel begins when Jonathon Bridge arrives at the Fortress, a society run and populated by women. While inside it, he is forbidden to ask questions, to raise his hand in anger, or refuse sex.
But he’s not there by choice. Jonathon offers himself to the Fortress after his pregnant wife discovered the ugly sexual violence pervading his top-tier firm. She has agreed to continue their fractured relationship on the condition he enter the Fortress for one year.
Jonathon is unprepared for what will happen to him over the year, not only to his body, but his mind and heart.
This book is beautifully written, warm and intensely entertaining. The eponymous Fortress is a self-sustaining city-state run by women, a space to atone for toxic corporate masculinity, and the site of male sexual submission. But it’s also a meticulously wrought and depicted parallel universe. To step into the Fortress is to be altered forever.
About the author
S. A. Jones is a Melboune-based novelist, essayist and reviewer with a PhD in History. Jones’ previous novels are Red Dress Walking and Isabelle of the Moon and Stars. She has written dozens of opinion pieces and essays on politics, history, sexuality, public policy and theology for Kill Your Darlings, The Age, The Guardian, Overland, The Toast, Regime, The Drum and Page Seventeen.
Fiona Higgins is the author of a memoir and three novels, the latest being Fearless (2016), published by Allen & Unwin.
Her debut novel, The Mothers’ Group (2012) was described by The Weekend Australian as ‘a top-shelf novel about contemporary Australian life’. Wife on the Run (2014) was reviewed in The Sydney Morning Herald as ‘a page-turning domestic melodrama for the social media age.’ Both novels were published in Europe. Her memoir, Love in the Age of Drought (2009), was published by Pan Macmillan in Australia.
Kylie Ladd has published five novels with Allen & Unwin: After the Fall (also published by Doubleday in the US), Last Summer, which was highly commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award for fiction, Into My Arms, chosen as one of Get Reading’s ‘50 books you can’t put down’ for 2013, Mothers and Daughters (also published by Sphere in the UK) and her latest, The Way Back. With Leigh Langtree she edited the anthology Naked: Confessions of Adultery and Infidelity. Kylie holds a PhD in neuropsychology and lives in Melbourne with her husband and two children.