Literary Fiction

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The Mistake

by Wendy James
Ligature finest
genre Crime · Literary Fiction · Mystery

Jodie Garrow’s life isn’t perfect, but she’s come a long way—a beautiful house in the middle of town, two children, a successful husband readying a run for mayor. She could almost forget that one mistake, years ago, that could have cost her everything: an unwise affair, an unwanted pregnancy, an adoption arrangement that wasn’t entirely by the book.

But a chance reunion leads to disaster: a police investigation, a media storm, a search for a missing child, allegations of murder—and a reckoning with everyone in Jodie’s life. Suddenly it seems she could lose everything she’s worked so hard to build. Can she prove her innocence? What is the truth, and does it even matter?

The Mistake is an acclaimed thriller of buried secrets, the lies we tell each other and ourselves—and what we become when we smell blood in the water.

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Where Have You Been?

by Wendy James
Ligature finest
genre Literary Fiction · Mystery

Susan and Ed Middleton are perfectly happy in their model middle-class family on Sydney’s northern beaches. But everything changes when Susan’s mother wills half her estate to Karen, Susan’s sister—a sister who disappeared twenty years earlier and has never been seen again.

The woman who turns up, claiming to her sister, isn’t the Karen she remembers—but that was a lifetime ago. Are there glimpses of the girl she knew, or is it just her imagination? Karen’s disappearance and presumed death all but destroyed her parents’ lives—but will her return threaten the new life and family that Susan has worked so hard for?

Where Have You Been? is a mystery and a thriller, a story of hope, of betrayal—and the fragility of all we take for granted.

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Why She Loves Him

by Wendy James
Ligature finest
genre Literary Fiction · Short Stories

Twenty-one short stories from award-winning writer Wendy James, ranging from the vignette to the compact epic, the suburban kitchen to the outback and the world, an instant to a lifetime and beyond.

A stay-at-home father is consumed by his frustrations. In Salzburg, a fortepiano maker struggles to preserve his family. Generations of women recall the family matriarch—was she really a witch? And in a kaleidoscopic tour de force, a young mother finds herself on the run with a desperate criminal.

These are stories about memory and perspective, patterns and deviations, longing and escape: a glittering collection from a master of the form.

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The Lost Girls

by Wendy James
Ligature finest
genre Crime · Literary Fiction

Summer, Sydney, 1978. Jane is in awe of her older cousin: Angie’s only fourteen, but she’s already making waves in their tight beachside community with the promise of who she’s about to be.

But Angie is murdered, devastating Jane and shattering her family. They retreat into a broken silence, unable to come to terms with the horror of a life cut so short.

Thirty years later, Jane has a family of her own—but she still feels the pull of that old tragedy. When a reporter with an agenda turns up asking questions, Jane can finally give voice to her emotions—but the picture that emerges is even darker and more troubling than she had recognised.

As the truth comes into terrible focus, Jane is forced to question everything she once believed—and fight to hold onto whatever is left.

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The Steele Diaries

by Wendy James
Ligature finest
genre Historical Fiction · Literary Fiction · Mystery

Zelda Steele is destined for great things. The talented daughter of two celebrity artists, raised by wealthy art patrons in Sydney’s sixties art scene, artistic success is hers for the taking. But Zelda dies young, leaving only the possibility of the artist she could have become—as well as two young children and the rumour of secret diaries.

Years later, Zelda’s daughter Ruth returns to her hometown to search for those diaries. What she finds there takes her deep into the mysteries of her parents’ and grandparents’ lives, and shifts the foundations of her own.

Weaving together the lives of three very different women across three eras, The Steele Diaries is a rich triptych of the tensions between ambition and responsibility, art and family, the past and present and future.

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Out of the Silence

by Wendy James
Ligature finest
genre Crime · Historical Fiction · Literary Fiction

The dawn of the 20th century brings three remarkable women into each other’s orbit. Maggie Heffernan is a spirited country girl whose betrayal sends her spiralling into desperation and tragedy. Vida Goldstein is a suffragist about to make political history. And Elizabeth Hamilton, heartbroken after the death of her fiancé and hoping for a new life in a new country, brings them together with her grace and empathy as she searches for justice and mercy.
Out of the Silence weaves historical fact with poetic invention in a captivating story of hope and ambition, regret and consolation, and the quest to right personal and political wrongs.

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The Age of Discretion

by Virginia Duigan
Ligature finest
genre Literary Fiction · Romance

Old friends Vivien and Julia are in crisis mode. Out of the blue, Viv’s husband of over 30 years delivers a devastating marital deal-breaker. And world-famous soprano Julia Jefferies fears her brilliant career is at an end.

But these are two resourceful—and very contemporary—women. Viv’s audacious move sets up a cascade of events that will alter her family forever. Now it’s official: love is not only for the young.

This romantic comedy of manners is seductive, sophisticated, and in every way provocative. The Age of Discretion upends beliefs and expectations in a hilarious, untidy love story for our times. And for our ages—whatever they may be.

‘With dry, wry wit, Duigan’s perspicacious, often poignant tale of middle-aged love and lust not only sizzles with sexiness and mischief—it also proves that women do not pass our amuse-by dates but, like vintage vino, simply become more and more delicious. Read at your own risqué!’
—Kathy Lette

‘Mischievous, warm, provocative and profoundly relatable—with a fabulous twist that’ll make you gasp out loud—The Age of Discretion is a tale of reinvention and second chances that proves living is not just for the young.’
—Better Reading Australia

‘I was immediately captivated, frequently laughing out loud, and admiring of Duigan’s skilful writing and smart dialogue. In the still-disappointing selection of intelligent and authentic stories of older women’s lives, The Age of Discretion is a real beacon of light.’
—Liz Byrski AM

‘I loved this deeply insightful and very funny novel with its intimate portrait of a long-term marriage and all that that might imply. I was deeply engaged, deeply amused and deeply moved.’
—Robyn Nevin AM

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Our Little Secret

by Allayne Webster
Ligature finest
genre Literary Fiction · Young Adult

Fourteen-year-old Edwina is growing up in a town where nothing ever happens—and her mother wouldn’t let her near it if it did.

Then Tom Atkinson comes along. He works with her dad, he’s older and good-looking and he notices her. But he also wants to keep their relationship a secret.

Soon there are no rules, and it feels like no one can help.

Haunting, challenging, and uncompromising, Our Little Secret remains essential reading.

‘gripping, moving, deliberately confronting, hard to put down…’ —The Advertiser

Read the Teaching Notes for Our Little Secret.

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Deeper Water

by Jessie Cole
Ligature finest
genre Literary Fiction

‘The secret things I knew about my mum, and the things that everyone knew, had played in my mind for some time, since I was real little, I guess. When I was small, all around me seemed to flow, gentle and sweet like the edge of the creek. Then my brothers grew too large to be hemmed in, and Sophie met a bloke, moved out and had babies, and things became harder.

The older I got the louder those secret things inside me became, all those knowns and unknowns, until—apart from Anja—I’d rather talk to animals than people.’

Innocent and unworldly, Mema is still living at home with her mother on a remote, lush hinterland property. It is a small, confined, simple sort of life, and Mema is content with it.

One day, during a heavy downpour, Mema saves a stranger from the raging creek. She takes him into her family home, where marooned by rising floods, he has to stay until the waters recede. His sudden presence is unsettling—for Mema, her mother and her wild friend Anja—but slowly he opens the door to a world of beckoning possibilities that threaten to sweep Mema into the deep.