Moorhouse is especially good on the shining promise Canberra once offered. What is especially wonderful is that while so many books tackle single themes, it is life as art that takes the central place here, and many themes wrap around it. Cold Light is a deeply moving, and singular, achievement in our literature.
Delia Falconer, The Australian
Cold Light realises the remarkable ambition of the Edith Campbell Berry trilogy - to render the trauma and hope of the twentieth century through the life of a fearless Australian woman determined to leave her mark on the world. It is a grand, mature work of the imagination by an intellectually sophisticated author. Frank Moorhouse writes translucently to create a novel populated by complicated, plausible characters of depth and passion, a stage enriched by historical detail. Edith Campbell Berry is a woman who has always made the political personal. Her return to Canberra in 1950 is tinged with disappointment and hope. Life is complicated - her brother is a Communist, her husband a cross-dressing English spy, her chances of a job limited by marriage, her mentors disappointing - her idealism is tempered. Canberra becomes her obsession and she embraces it with the passion and vision we came to expect of her on the international stage earlier in the trilogy. Through her eyes the nation's capital becomes a visionary project. As events unfold around her Edith confronts the disappointments and setbacks of age with self-awareness, curiosity and an acute sense of the intersection of private and public life. Frank Moorhouse has brought the intellectual richness and political tensions of post-war Australia to life in unexpected ways. In Cold Light he has created an enduring Australian character and captured a time that still resonates. Edith is complicated, and dreams big. She embodies the possibilities and limitations of her time, place and gender and is Moorhouse’s enduring gift to Australian literature.
Miles Franklin Award judges
To write about one's country is like writing about one's family; a hazardous and unreliable business, criss-crossed with deep human reservoirs of love, protectiveness and shame. It is tempting for the voyager in such circumstances to protect himself with mockery or contempt, but you chose a different way; a harder way, and more vulnerable, and infinitely more precious. Thank you for doing it with such love and care, Frank.To write with fondness, rather than contempt, is something I learned from you, and I think it was a valuable lesson. Edith is the sort of character with whom anyone would like to have dinner. She is clever, and principled, and foolish, and vain, and decisive, and fierce, and hopeless, and interested in shoes. We love her and that's that. These three books - Grand Days, Dark Palace and Cold Light - are, together, an extraordinary piece of Australian cultural infrastructure, if you'll permit me the ugly expression. They are built from your hard work and your extraordinary natural gift, and the fact that you did not allow the abundance of the latter to excuse you from the rigours of the former. Thank you, Frank.
Annabel Crabb, from Letter to Frank at the launch of Cold Light