One Another

One Another


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Susan's Review

Gail Jones is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and respected writers. Her two collections of short stories and nine novels have won a host of prizes, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the ARA Historical Novel Prize, the ALS Gold Medal, the West Australia Premiers Book Award and the Age Book of the Year. Her fiction has been shortlisted four times for the Miles Franklin Award and translated into several languages. As an unabashed admirer, I was delighted to read Jones’ new novel One Another. It’s thematically complex yet highly readable; formally inventive; and as is always the case with Jones’ fiction, exquisitely written. 

Set in 1992, One Another has two story lines which gradually and subtly interconnect. One narrative focuses on Helen, a young Australian woman doing a PhD at Cambridge on the work of the novelist Joseph Conrad. The other tells the story of Conrad himself, from his childhood as a bereft orphan to an adulthood of literary fame. In the process of intertwining the narratives of two radically different characters, Jones offers a disturbing critique of the injustice and violence of Empire, and a poignant depiction of the enduring legacy of the family. The novel also explores the complications of personal relationships and the experience of grief. And if you have a passion for books, you will find much of interest in One Another about the ways in which we can construct a sense of self through our reading; how reading can help assuage loneliness, and offer us affirmation and consolation.

One Another is a novel of ideas which wears its extensive research and reading lightly. It’s both ethically confronting and deeply moving, elegiac and hopeful. It encourages reflection on the influence history, place and family on individuals and nations. It shows Jones writing at the height of her powers about our intellectual, emotional and bodily selves.

One Another is now available in the Lane Bookshop. Gail Jones and I will be in conversation about her new novel on March 21st at the Cottesloe Civic Centre. Please check the Lane Bookshop website for booking details.

Publishers Reviews

Eminent Australian author Gail Jones examines the intersections of art and life in her distinctively immersive and rich prose.

At Cambridge, in the summer of 1992, Australian student Helen is completing her thesis on Joseph Conrad. But she is distracted by a charming and dangerous lover, Justin, and by a ghost manuscript, her anti-thesis, which she has left on a train.

Haunted by this loss and others, by Justin's destructive tendencies and by details of Conrad's life, Helen is unmoored. And then the drama of the lost manuscript sets in motion a series of events-with possibly fatal consequences.

Gail Jones's masterly new novel traverses the borders between art and life, between life and death, in a journey through literary history and emotional landscapes. Elegantly written, deftly crafted, One Another covers new territories of grief, memory and narrative.