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From the creator of ‘Offspring’ and author of Useful, a gripping, wry and tender novel about how holding on too tightly can cost us what we love.

In the summer of 1976 it’s picking season on an Australian stone-fruit orchard run by Celia, a hard-working woman in her early forties. Years ago, when her husband was killed as a bystander in an armed robbery, Celia left the city and brought her newborn daughter Zoe to this farm for a secure life. Now sixteen, Zoe is a passionate, intelligent girl, chafing against her mother’s protectiveness, yearning to find intensity and a bit of danger.

Barging into this world as itinerant fruit-pickers come a desperate brother and sister from Sydney. The hard-bitten Sheena has kidnapped her wild, ebullient eighteen-year-old brother Kieran and dragged him out west, away from trouble in the city. Kieran and Zoe are drawn to each other the instant they meet, sparking excitement, worry, lust, trouble . . .

How do we protect people we love? How do we bear watching them go out into the perilous world with no guarantee of safety or happiness? What bargains do people make with darkness in order to survive? From the creator of Offspring and author of Useful, The Whole Bright Year is a gripping, wry and tender novel about how holding on too tightly can cost us what we love.


And as an admirer of Debra Oswald's play The Peach Season, I was glad to see this deft and original exploration of the parent-child relationship given the more capacious quarters afforded by a novel in The Whole Bright Year

Geraldine Brooks, The Sydney Morning Herald

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    January 29, 2018


    288 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Audio Download


    March 1, 2018

    Penguin Random House Australia Audio

    RRP $26.99

    Online retailers

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  • EBook


    January 29, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    304 pages

    Online retailers

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


Part One


The trees were loaded with fruit, and the peaches were colouring up well. Pallets of packing boxes waited in the shed, the coolroom scrubbed out, everything ready to go. But where Roza should have been able to see four or more pickers working in the orchard, there were just two people slogging away.

The regular picking team had failed to show. The team boss, Roy, was usually reliable – even if that man’s breath was sour enough to pickle your eyeballs – but already it had been three days with no pickers. And so, Celia and Zoe, mother and daughter, were bringing in some of the peaches until things were sorted out.

The two of them had been working since five a.m. and now, mid-afternoon, the sun was fierce and their shirts were soaked with sweat, shoulders slumped from the weight of the picking bags.

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