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  • Published: 12 April 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761046964
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $27.99

Girl in a Pink Dress

Is it possible for one relationship to survive two ambitious artists?


Far away from the glittering lights and famous personalities of the Sydney art world she once knew, Frances now lives a quiet life in a remote mountain town, pursuing her art. When an invitation arrives from a former lover to attend his painting exhibition at a celebrated gallery, Frances is plunged back into the past, when a single act changed the course of her life.

Told across two time periods, Girl in a Pink Dress is a sharp-eyed and compelling story about love and art, about sacrifice and ambition, and the often damaging relationship between artist and muse.

  • Published: 12 April 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761046964
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $27.99

About the author

Kylie Needham

Kylie Needham is an award-winning screenwriter. She holds a Bachelor of Arts/Communications (Theatre/Media) from Charles Sturt University and both a Master of Arts (English Literature) and a Master of Creative Writing from Macquarie University.

Kylie has won two AWGIE (Australian Writers’ Guild) Awards for television scriptwriting.

Her work has been published in the Better Read Than Dead Writing Anthology 2019, The Quarry Journal and the exhibition catalogue 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Dark Heart.

She lives in the Southern Highlands of NSW. This is her first novel.

Praise for Girl in a Pink Dress

Flawless. The art world, young 'love', power, sex, tenderness, fury – I’m still searching for adequate words to explain how exceptional this book is.

Letitia Davy, Gleebooks Dulwich Hill, The Booklist

Needham’s insight about creativity and high achievement, specifically female high achievement, is depthless. The knowledge with which she writes, the thrilling poetry of her language... combined with a cool, succinct bite to her prose give her novel both intensity and assurance. It is also unflinchingly narrated, always from Frances’ perspective... This short novel is a small miracle. Profound and sometimes perfect, a mere review is an injustice.

Helen Elliott, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald

Like so much great art by women, this is a quiet triumph. Brushstroke by brushstroke, Kylie Needham paints a portrait of love filled with a tender rage. Mesmerising and rare.

Heather Rose

A fierce-hearted, gorgeously written story of a woman seizing her power.

Jennifer Byrne

Needham's book is exquisite and fierce and beautifully observed. I was immersed from the first page to the last – in the narrator who is so much more interesting – and powerful – than she gives herself credit for. And in the deft, unshowy art of Needham's prose. I loved the artworld with all its beauties, ambition, heresies, politics and petty tyrannies. Only when I finished did I see the whole, perfect canvas she's painted. A bravura piece of work.

Anna Funder, Bookoccino 2023 Summer Reading Guide

By chance I found myself seated beside the author of this gorgeous novel at a dinner for writers in Sydney, prior to Christmas. She was brilliant company, and now I can say: so is her book! It's about creative people, and it's about art, and success, and love. It's sophisticated, and modern, and so very Australian... I can't recommend it enough.

Caroline Overington, The Australian

A beautifully written gem. Breathtakingly good.

David Wenham

Needham has an exquisite eye for detail; the lyricism of her prose flavours Girl in a Pink Dress with earthy sensuality. Small moments – like the cold of oncoming winter being described as ‘an overeager newborn, all shivery and translucent-skinned, with no fat on the bone yet to keep itself warm’ – endow the novel with a haunting beauty. Girl in a Pink Dress is a gorgeous debut novel. Needham delicately captures the aesthetics and agonies of the relationship between Frances and Clem. At the same time, she asks what it means for women to exist as creatives in their own right… she gifts us with an eloquent vision of a female artist.

Ellie Fisher, ArtsHub

Delicately poetic and powered with fury.

Sian Cain, The Guardian

Needham understands artistic sensibility. Because of this, the narrative has a magnificent painterly, cinematic quality… This is a marvellously immersive story of growth of a woman who is trying to secure a career in the art world.

Bob Moore, Good Reading

Masterful… an engaging story of art, love and compromise… there's nothing hackneyed about Needham's depiction of this complicated coupling. The writing is taut and controlled, the characterisation pitch perfect, and the visuals appropriately cinematic… It's evocative and textured… there's no denying Needham's knack for teleporting the reader into this lusty, lustrous tale.

T. J. Collins, Canberra Times

Needham’s writing is crisp and spare. Spanning decades, she neatly folds time in on itself by using short scenes to link the past and present. Needham’s sense of place, critical in the creation of Frances as a character, is lyrical and sparse, like the Australian landscape itself. But the true joy of Needham’s writing is the characters... Frances is delightfully complex and compelling. Clem, with his overblown ego and deep insecurity, his callousness in the affairs of the heart and his inability to ever shake his famous father’s shadow is equally alive on the page. There’s a humdinger of a climax that made me gasp with an equal mix of joy and surprise. Girl in a Pink Dress is a beautifully crafted novel with a driving narrative that is both rich and evocative.

Meredith Jaffe, New Voices Down Under

Written in sparse, shimmering prose, Needham’s portrait of an artist struggling to define her vision of both her work and herself is highlighted with moments of dazzling visual clarity, and underpinned by subtle character development.

Annette Hughes, Newtown Review of Books

It’s impossible to hold this beautiful little hardback without coveting the book itself and its sensory allure is just as strong on the pages within. It’s a love story – initially a coming-of-age and then a coming-of-middle-age; revealing the maturity and positioning of a woman on the other side of the affair, finding her place in the world as a woman and as an artist... We relished the deft realism and gorgeous local details from the affluent art collectors of Sydney to the weekend artisans of rural New South Wales, as well as a memorable dinner party scene with established Aussie artists sharing their thoughts on a woman’s career. Such a treat.

Cassie Stroud, WellRead

Stunning... Needham's experience as an award-winning screenwriter is obvious as she expertly guides this story through two different timelines.

Qantas Travel Insider

This captivating novel explores artistic ambition through the relationship between a painter and his muse.

Georgie Gordon, Sydney Morning Herald

This compelling debut novel follows a young female painter whose ambitions begin to clash with those of her older lover and teacher… [Needham’s] prose is visual and poetic – unsurprising perhaps, given [her] background. An award-winning screenwriter in her own right, Needham has first-hand experience of the world of fine art… like the surprisingly seductive landscapes painted by Frances, the heart of the book and the titular girl, there’s more depth to this story than first meets the eye. Needham and her contemporaries are writing more and more into a spectrum of frustration and fury that ambitious female artists might feel towards their entitled male counterparts (and sometimes lovers)… Frances takes a little while to come into her fury, although when she does it is deeply satisfying.

Bec Kavanagh, The Guardian

Kylie Needham’s Girl in a Pink Dress (HH) is exquisite and fierce and beautifully observed. I was immersed in close-up view, from the first page to the last — in the narrator who is so much more interesting – and powerful – than she gives herself credit for. And in the deft, unshowy art of Needham’s prose. I loved being in the artworld with all its beauties, ambition, its heresies, politics and petty tyrannies, and watching a relationship of artists blossom. I enjoyed the deft brushstrokes of Needham’s writing so much that only when I finished did I see the whole, perfect canvas she’s painted.

Anna Funder, Sydney Morning Herald

Awards & recognition

MUD Literary Prize

Shortlisted  •  2024  •  Recognises the best debut literary novel by an Australian author

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