* Shortlisted, 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards (Fiction and People’s Choice categories)
It has taken a lifetime for me to see that the more afraid people are of the darkness, the further into it they will flee.
Nearing the end of her life, Meggie Tulloch takes up her pen to write a story for her granddaughter. It begins in the first years of the twentieth century, in a place where howling winds spin salt and sleet sucked up from icefloes. A place where lives are ruled by men, and men by the witchy sea. A place where the only thing lower than a girl in the order of things is a clever girl with accursed red hair.
A place schooled in keeping secrets.
Moving from the north-east of Scotland to the Shetland Isles to Fremantle, Australia, Elemental is a novel about the life you make from the life you are given.
Amanda Curtin’s Elemental is a masterpiece in storytelling, incredibly evocative of time and place, and with a lively and entertaining character at its heart. • Reading Matters blog
It feels like ‘Elemental’ belongs in the tradition of great Victorian literature like Thomas Hardy. Yet there is something so refreshing in the voice and sensibility of the narrator which feels relevant and new even though she belongs to another century. • Lonesome Reader blog
By far my favourite novel this year was Amanda Curtin’s Elemental. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, this century-long saga set in Scotland and Fremantle is a triumph of storytelling and emotional truth. • Richard King, The Weekend Australian
Extensively researched and vividly written, Elemental creates an evocative sense of different landscapes and periods as well as engaging and psychologically complex characters. • Judges’ Report, 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards
The world of Meggie Tulloch is utterly captivating, densely imagined and beautifully realised. An original vision. • Gail Jones
Curtin’s mastery of empathy and grace mirrors the master himself, Thomas Hardy. • Chigozie Obioma
Curtin lifts the matter-of-factness out of the fabric of history and really makes it sing. • William Yeoman, The West Australian
Meggie’s voice is poetic and convincing, while a gentle metaphorical undertow invites the reader to make connections that may not be immediately apparent … The novel is also structurally impressive, yielding its secrets gradually. In a sense, Elemental is an emotional thriller in which the reader plays the role of detective—a role that involves not looking for clues but drawing connections between states of mind. • Richard King, The Weekend Australian
Too many Australian literary novels are formless and as a result find themselves without narrative thrust. Curtin’s differs, by having a real sense of the novel as act of resolution … The two narratives stunningly knit together … • Lucy Sussex, Sydney Morning Herald
Elemental is temporally and geographically vast, in its substantial research and carefully structured story … Meggie’s voice is entirely convincing, and her life story is absorbing … Curtin has produced a beautifully realised character in Meggie Tulloch, and Elemental is deeply satisfying and gracefully composed. • Wendy Were, Australian Book Review
Elemental is an exquisite novel. Every word of it is tightly crafted and pregnant with possibility. It is self-referential and post-modern in the way it undermines time, creating a genetic and emotional link between characters in multiple times and places. Yet, at the same time, there is something almost old fashioned and timeless in its deep perceptions and observations, and in the sheer, slow beauty of its prose … Elemental is indeed a wonderful, engrossing read, but it also shines of greatness. • Magdalena Ball, The Compulsive Reader
This is one of those novels that is at once both tender and brutal so that the reader becomes emotionally bound to the world that has been so skilfully created, not wanting to stop reading and yet not wanting the book ever to end. • Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers Litblog
This is a strong story told in a realistic yet lyrical manner. • Lesley Hawkes, Southerly
You can read an extract here, on the UWA Publishing site.