IF YOU WERE MINE
"Haunting and beautifully written - both love and loss are vividly explored." Jane Rogers, author of Mr Wroe's Virgins and The Voyage Home
"On the fourteenth of February 1962, in the outback settlement of Sugarbag, Esther Hayes looked out of the schoolhouse window and saw three children struck by lightning. The boys were playing cricket on a strip of stubble field that did for a schoolyard; minutes earlier she had heard them laughing as they hammered in the wicket with a stone."
Numbed by tragedy, Esther retreats into silence, while her young daughter, Aurora, is left to fend for herself. Aurora's childhood is played out against the backdrop of her father's absence and her mother's neglect, and she is forced to take comfort wherever she can. The fierce attachments she forms never seem to last - until she abandons Australia for Dublin, and her father's native Tipperary.
If You Were Mine is a story of mothers and daughters, of the anguish of unexpected partings, and the intense delight that can descend out of the blue. While thinking about an Australian setting for the early part of the novel, I came across a secondhand book by George Farwell called Ghost Towns Of Australia. During the 1960s, Farwell had visited outback towns on the edge of extinction and others that were already dead. One of these was Hammond in South Australia's mid-north; it was close enough for me to visit with ease, and I was keen to see how it had fared since Farwell's visit.
I imagined I would find a tumble of stones, perhaps the roofless remnants of the pub and not much more, but I was in for a surprise. Although some houses had been given up to the weather, others were obviously cared for. A few were boarded up, most displayed fierce warning signs to tresspassers, and to my astonishment there was a telephone box in working order outside the old post office.
The ruined Kanyacka homestead was a different story - once owned by the third son of a Scottish Earl who drowned while crossing its flooded creek on horseback, the place reeked of hard lives and times. Both places were north of Goyder's Line of Rainfall, the remarkably accurate division of viable land from drought affected country plotted by George Woodroffe Goyder in the nineteenth century.
Images From The Heartbreak Plains
Images From Ireland
"Lefevre measures lyricism with poignancy and If You Were Mine is a tender, resonant achievement." Rebecca Starford. The Weekend Australian
"This is a very talented writer because not only does she understand paradox, but she knows language, housing us and then unhousing us with the same ease fate does, setting us down in the wrong place, in the same way as the characters in her first novel, Nights In The Asylum listed towards tragedy, through a 'string of bad decisions'." Brian Castro