On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends one of the daughters of infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are trying to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work at their family home.
Lily becomes infatuated with this wild, makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it. As the years pass, Lily observes the way the lives of these artists come to reflect the same themes as their art: Faustian bargains and spectacular falls from grace. Yet it’s not Evan but his own daughters who pay the price for his radicalism.
The Strays is an engrossing story of ambition, sacrifice and compromised loyalties from an exciting new talent.
"Treating this novel as a historical fiction risks missing some of its breadth of insight. The Strays is an eloquent portrayal of the damage caused by self-absorption as well as a moving study of isolation." (The Saturday Age)
"Bitto writes beautifully, her prose supple and satisfying, her insights and extended metaphors worth lingering over. Of particular note are her characters’ perceptive comments on art and her visceral understanding of the only child’s ever-unrequited hunger for inclusion - an inclusion that always falls short of the familial, however vexed or careless that familial connection may appear." (The Adelaide Advertiser)
"Emily Bitto has written a very stylish and enjoyable debut novel." (The Sunday Mail)
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