The novel our office has fallen in love with!

An ambitious, remarkable and moving novel about who we are: our past, present and future, and our connection to this land.

Set on the banks of Lake Illawarra and spanning four centuries, Storyland is a unique and compelling novel of people and place – which tells in essence the story of Australia. Told in an unfurling narrative of interlinking stories, in a style reminiscent of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, McKinnon weaves together the stories of Will Martin together with the stories of four others: a desperate ex-convict, Hawker, who commits an act of terrible brutality; Lola, who in 1900 runs a dairy farm on the Illawarra with her brother and sister, when they come under suspicion for a crime they did not commit; Bel, a young girl who goes on a rafting adventure with her friends in 1998 and is unexpectedly caught up in violent events; and in 2033, Nada, who sees her world start to crumble apart. Intriguingly, all these characters are all connected – not only through the same land and water they inhabit over the decades, but also by tendrils of blood, history, memory and property…


Here’s what the HarperCollins ANZ team had to say:

‘I decided to read Storyland over the Christmas break and what an absolute pleasure it was.  Of course I fell in deeply in love with each character and was quite desperate when their tale finished. I’m going out on a limb and saying this is the best local fiction book I’ve read in years. Her evocative writing style is so delicious I could smell the gumtrees and hear the flies buzzing. I want to sit in a deck chair on a porch somewhere warm and re-read this book when I have the time. I just wish there was more ….What a brilliant writer!’
–  Kerry Armstrong, Sales Account ManagerStoryland was an absolute delight – my greatest literary treat in ages. Where has ‘Catherine McKinnon been hiding? She truly is a great writer. Her disparate characters are so perfectly drawn and utterly believable. Her evocation of time and place is extraordinary. She has chosen a very unusual structure for this book but it really works – how could anyone not want to keep reading? And just when I thought I had its measure, this book took me completely by surprise. I’m really looking forward to Storyland making a big splash in 2017. I will certainly be doing my bit to spread the word.’
– Lachlan McLaine, Senior EditorThis is simply one of the best stories about Australia I have ever read. It is amazing for its subject matter, its plot and its superlative execution. Storyland is about Australia – its beauty, our beginnings (for both white and indigenous Australians) and how our nation may evolve. There is sadness, wrong doings, unwarranted violence and major misunderstandings but it encouraged me to reflect on how resilient and courageous all Australians are and continue to be in our efforts to forge an existence in this harsh and formidable land … The author doesn’t judge so much as open our minds to the possibilities of understanding each man’s perspective. It is one of the most beautiful observations on the making of me, you, them – of us all as Australians.  I feel more connected than ever to my homeland and hold dear the dreaming tradition of our native forebears.  FYI, I predict an award winner.’
Katrina Hemingway, Sales Manager‘Storyland is a beautifully written exploration of the complicated relationship between the Australian people and the land they inhabit – but it is also much more than that. The diversity of the voices of the main characters and the skilful way that Catherine McKinnon writes from these varied perspectives is an incredible achievement and makes this book a pleasure to read. I became completely lost in each and every story, and the world fell away as I followed the different characters’ journeys through time and space. Exploring our past, present and a frighteningly believable future, Storyland is one of the most engaging, skilful and thought-provoking books I have read about Australia. For this reason it invites comparisons to great Australian writers like Tim Winton and Kate Grenville, but this book that well and truly stands alone as a future Australian classic.’

–  Lara Wallace, Publicity Manager‘I read Storyland over the holidays – what a wonderful tale, loved it. I’m a big fan of Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, so was prepared to be a little disappointed, but instead was swept away.  Each story was perfect in itself, but I loved the structure of the whole as well.’
–  Sandra Noakes, Marketing Communications Manager, New Zealand‘Now that I’ve finished the manuscript, I just wanted to let you know how much Storyland has blown me away. It’s unlike any other book I’ve read – a dazzling, boundary-pushing, elevated yet beautifully approachable work of art. I didn’t want to put it down; once I’d reached the end I felt like starting over from the beginning so I could live with the characters a little longer and see what other precious details I could glean about their lives. That’s how the book is: for everything it gives it holds something else back, so that as a reader you’re propelled through the whole thing by an aching need to fill in those tantalising blanks. And the thing is, I never did fill in all the blanks. The ending, once I reached it, didn’t satisfy me. It made me hungry, which to me is worth so much more than satisfaction. It made me want to delve deeper into the stories it told, to learn more about their historical grounding (since I know parts of it were based on fact), to make my friends read it so that we can speculate together about where the characters might go next.  What a novel. What an experience. What a beautiful, beautiful book to have on our list.’
Lucy Bennett, Publishing Assistant‘I want to offer my reaction to Storyland for you – as I want to be able to say I read Storyland before it was published and I knew right back then that it would be a huge massive success – that it would become a book that people adored and held dear, carried around in their handbags and gifted to friends. A book that would be talked about over dinners and that when a copy of Storyland was seen on a new friend’s bookshelf, it would signal a lifelong friendship with that person would be possible. Storyland is a gift of a book and its quiet warm intelligence is a delight. I haven’t enjoyed a novel so much in ages. I feel I have read my book of the year and it’s only January. What am I to do now? 5 stars to Catherine McKinnon.’
Jaki Arthur, Head Marketing and CommunicationsI am in awe of this novel. Catherine McKinnon’s prose is as vivid as her storylines are gut-wrenching. Whenever I begin to read the world falls away – it may look like I’m sitting at my desk in Sydney, but I am actually in the Illawarra in 1796 – or 1822 – or 1900 – or in a future that feels frighteningly possible.’
Nicola Robinson, Senior Editor‘It is excellent! I can’t stop reading it, I have to find out what happens and how everything interlocks. It’s like the author is pulling me through time, and then back again. Brilliant stuff. The way she manages to hop from voice to voice but keep a connection to the story/land is fantastic.’
Tom Wilson, Account Sales ManagerOnce you start, you just have to keep on going till the end.’
Doug from the Mailroom‘I read Storyland over the weekend and am awestruck. I was worried that the premise of loosely interconnected stories all linked by the land would feel a bit too worthy but there is such compassion, humanity, humour, drama and tension to be found here. It’s a real gem and I want to press a copy into the hands of everyone I know who loves to read.’
Anna Valdinger, Publisher


Posted on April 19, 2017 by

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"The novel our office has fallen in love with!"

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