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From the award-winning author of Only the Animals comes an unputdownable novel of obsession, guilt, and the power of the past to possess the present.

From the award-winning author of Only the Animals comes an unputdownable novel of obsession, guilt, and the power of the past to possess the present.
Almost twenty years after forbidding him to contact her, Vita receives an email from her old benefactor, Royce. Once, she was one of his brightest protégées; now her career has stalled and Royce is ailing, and each has a need to settle accounts.
Beyond their murky shared history, both have lost beloveds, one to an untimely death, another to a strange disappearance. And both are trying to free themselves from deeper pasts, Vita from the inheritance of her birthplace, Royce from the grip of the ancient city of Pompeii and the secrets of the Garden of the Fugitives. Between what’s been repressed and what has been excavated are disturbances that reach back through decades, even centuries.
Addictive and unsettling, In the Garden of the Fugitives is a masterpiece of duplicity and counterplay, as brilliantly illuminating as it is surprising – about the obscure workings of guilt in the human psyche, the compulsion to create, and the dangerous morphing of desire into control. It is the breakthrough work of one of Australia’s most exciting emerging writers.


A spellbinding pas de deux of passion and obsession. Mesmerising and mind-expanding. I was transfixed.

Anna Funder

A marvel of tone and texture . . . If, as Freud once said, the stones of antiquity speak to us, then Dovey is their exemplary oracle.

Geordie Williamson, The Weekend Australian

Amazing . . . like Dangerous Liaisons but less campy, more astringent.

The Saturday Paper

Splendidly sinister . . . The novel is richly imagined and Dovey is a terrific writer.

Laura Kroetsch, The Herald Sun

[Dovey] is one of the most exciting writers working in Australia today . . . An expansive and exploratory novel . . . genuinely bold and original . . . In the Garden of the Fugitives is a remarkable book and its author is a star.

Alison Huber, readings.com.au

Dovey is one of our best, most original writers . . . Splendid.

David Gaunt, Books & Publishing

This novel is brilliant. The story is compelling and addictive . . . A profound insight into the nature of the human psyche.

Melinda Woledge, Good Reading

Not enough is said in praise of literature’s cold touch, its quiet devastations, its beautiful non-answers . . . Dovey is a compelling writer.

Adam Rivett, The Monthly

In a novel unabashedly about ideas, Dovey does not shy away from bluntly confronting big questions head-on, and yet – a testament to her skill – the book, while trembling with meaning, is neither obvious nor cumbersome but unsettlingly alive. Sweeping both geographically and intellectually; a literary page-turner.

Kirkus Reviews

Excavation both archaeological and psychological figures prominently in Dovey’s gracefully constructed second novel.

Brendan Driscol, Booklist (starred review)

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Formats & editions

  • Audio Download


    March 1, 2018

    Penguin Random House Australia Audio

    RRP $28.99

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Audible AU
    • Google Play Audio AU
    • Kobo Audiobook
  • Trade Paperback


    February 26, 2018

    Hamish Hamilton

    320 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    February 26, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks


Given our history, Vita, I’m aware you may decide not to read this. I turned seventy this past May, though I don’t expect you to care. For me this long-anticipated leap year (mmxx, as the Romans would have written it) has brought unwelcome news. The rest of humankind advances bravely toward its future while I stew in sickness, and in my own nostalgia, as everybody warned would happen at this time of life. It’s the craven need for absolution that has taken me by surprise. My thoughts are tuned ever more to Kitty, and to you. I am not a religious man, yet here I am, stuck in religious mode, coming to you as a supplicant.

I have something to propose, but I need to know you’re still there, that you might be prepared to hear me out.



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Book Clubs
In the Garden of the Fugitives Book Club Notes

Unearth Ceridwen Dovey’s themes of guilt, power, shame and obsession with your book club.

Also by Ceridwen Dovey