Dora Somerville's brother has just been killed fighting in France. She is the last remaining member of her family, and her lover Daniel, a printer, is in the same situation. Both are pacifists, and Daniel, finding it harder to remain in Australia while men are enlisting all around him and women are handing him white feathers, decides to join a one-year scientific expedition to Antarctica. They decide they will write to each other, even though their letters can't be posted. But Dora, feeling abandoned, finds herself in league with an extremist organisation whose pacifist activism embraces violence, a situation that eventually leads to the crisis of her life. In the history of wartime Australia and of Mawson's Antarctica, Susan Errington has rich material at her disposal and uses it to construct a thoughtful historical romance.
Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Sydney Morning Herald
A rich full circle of a novel. In places as raw and brutal as the bomb central to the plot, and in others woven as delicately as lace. A new perspective on Australia’s Great War, and I loved it.
A passionate story of the conflicts born of trying to avoid war – or perhaps even attempting to destroy it altogether – Ice Letters balances a sense of exquisite beauty with a story of terrific intent. Dora and Daniel are as fierce as they are frightened and their twinned and intertwined stories explode from the page with rich imagery and poetic vivacity. You know the way the world unfolds around them – you know the awful shape of World War I. But what these two want is a different world, a different history, and their story brings its readers a stunning new prism through which to view that well-known time. In the letters of these lovers, as in Susan Errington’s delicate crafting of their stories, there’s a beautiful celebration of what Errington herself describes as “writing as an essential act of surviving in the wilderness”.
This novel makes one consider the lesser-known parts of Australian history. While thousands of men volunteered to serve overseas in World War 1, there was also disquiet and opposition to the war among certain sectors of the community. How Dora and Daniel deal with threats to their lives and to the lives of others, makes this a page-turner.
Jennifer Somerville, Good Reading