Outside, the rain continues unceasing; silver sheets sluicing down, the trees and shrubs soaking and bedraggled, the earth sodden, puddles overflowing, torrents coursing onwards, as the darkness slowly softens with the dawn.
Ester is a family therapist with an appointment book that catalogues the anxieties of the middle class: loneliness, relationships, death. She spends her days helping others find happiness, but her own family relationships are tense and frayed. Estranged from both her sister, April, and her ex-husband, Lawrence, Ester wants to fall in love again. Meanwhile, April is struggling through her own directionless life; Lawrence’s reckless past decisions are catching up with him; and Ester and April’s mother, Hilary, is about to make a choice that will profoundly affect them all.
Taking place largely over one rainy day in Sydney, and rendered with the evocative and powerful prose Blain is known for, Between a Wolf and a Dog is a celebration of the best in all of us — our capacity to live in the face of ordinary sorrows, and to draw strength from the transformative power of art. Ultimately, it is a joyous tribute to the beauty of being alive.
Georgia Blain published novels for adults and young adults, essays, short stories, and a memoir. Her first novel was the bestselling Closed for Winter, which was made into a feature film. Her books have been shortlisted for numerous awards including the NSW, Victorian, and SA Premiers’ Literary Awards, and the Nita B. Kibble Award for her memoir Births Deaths Marriages. Georgia’s most recent works include The Secret Lives of Men, Too Close to Home, and the YA novel Darkwater. In 2016, in addition to Between a Wolf and a Dog, Georgia published the YA novel Special (Penguin Random House Australia). Georgia passed away in December 2016.
Between a Wolf and a Dog is an accomplished and sympathetic novel about love and motherhood, therapy, the impact of betrayal, and the choices that arise from acts of irresponsibility, or from careful deliberation. Ester is a therapist, advising her clients on the options available to them that they can’t always see for themselves. Her ex-husband, Lawrence, is a pollster who manipulates his data for the thrill of transgression, but who is ultimately required to perform an unselfish and difficult act. Between a Wolf and a Dog is Georgia Blain’s final novel, and it is a triumph: finely structured, suspenseful and morally acute.
‘Part of the reason Between a Wolf and a Dog succeeds so well is that everything in the novel is heartfelt without being in the least sentimental. Lack of sentimentality is a measure of how modern a writer Blain is, how she has honed “our” language to suit her purposes exactly.’ Dorothy Johnston, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Between a Wolf and Dog is an elegant novel, written in lucent and, at times, luminous prose. It is a work of delicately detailed emotion and beautiful balance, and it is so well paced that its narrative is utterly compelling. It is a remarkable portrayal of family relationships, and the complex and often competing desires and sensitivities that drive them, but it is mostly a book about love and forgiveness, and holding on to our good fortune and our loved ones, even and especially in the face of loss. It is heartfelt and resonant, and a remarkable novel that lingers long after its final page.’ Fiona Wright, The Australian
‘The prose throughout is lush and gorgeous; this is an elegant, intelligent and affecting novel from a writer at the height of her powers… This very good novel has become a staggeringly powerful declaration, an important story, and Blain has been generous to offer it to us.’ LS, The Saturday Paper
‘Blain has an affinity for domestic realism with a dark edge and an unstinting eye: she is fascinated by the faultlines in relationships and the turning points in individual lives that are more visible in retrospect than in the moment. She is also good at social context, weaving the details that reflect our times into the fabric of her characters and stories… Between a Wolf and a Dog is notable for its polish: structurally and stylistically this novel proceeds with quiet assurance.’ Jo Case, Australian Book Review