In an old house with ‘too many windows and women’, high in the Indian hills, young Hannah lives with her older sister Gloria; her two older brothers; her mother – the Magician; a colourful assortment of aunts, blow-ins and misfits; and her father – the Historian. It is a world of secrets, jealousies and lies, ruled by the Historian but smoothed over by the Magician, whose kindnesses and wisdom bring homely comfort and all-enveloping love to a ramshackle building that seems destined for chaos.
And then one day the Magician is gone, Gloria is gone, and the Historian has spirited Hannah and her brothers away to a new and at first bewildering life in Perth. As Hannah grows and makes her own way through Australian life, an education and friendships, she begins to penetrate to the heart of one of the old house’s greatest secrets – and to the meaning of her own existence.
“The Historian’s Daughter is a fine debut novel from a writer who is confident with her material and takes risks with her narrative structure. Murphy presents us with deeply moving moments that test her characters, and creates a poignant atmosphere that resolves through reconciliation into a hopeful future.”
Vivienne Glance, Mascara Literary Review
“It’s an impressive debut. More than a quest for identity, it is a vivid portrait of extended family life in India, and an homage to the freedom of life in Australia which allows for different kinds of family to emerge.”
“I absolutely love The Historian’s Daughter—the intelligence and vulnerability of young Hannah; the tender relationships between the sisters, between them and their mother, and between Hannah and her ‘mad aunt’; the novel’s pace alongside its sophisticated use of restraint; and the lyrical prose that sings from the page as the narrative takes us from India to Australia to Iran and back to ‘home’.”
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