Lotte is an astronomer who spends her nights peering into deep space rather than looking too closely at herself. When she returns to her hometown after years in South America, reeling from a devastating diagnosis, she finds that much has changed. Lotte’s father has remarried, and she feels like an outsider in the house she grew up in. She’s estranged from her former best friend, Eve, who is busy with her own life, and unsure of how to recover the closeness they once shared. Initially, Lotte's return causes disharmony, but then it is the catalyst for a much more devastating event — an event that will change Lotte and Eve's lives forever.
If families are like solar systems — bodies that orbit in time with one another, sometimes close and sometimes far away — what is the force that drives them? And what are the consequences when the weight of one planet tugs others off course?
The long-awaited second novel from the award-winning Melanie Joosten, Gravity Well is a striking and tender tale of friendship and family: both the family we are born to, and the family we choose. Deeply compassionate and profoundly moving, it is a heartrending portrait of how we rebuild when the worst has happened.
‘[Joosten’s] characters are faced with all the complexity of the modern world, and sometimes the decisions they make turn out to be wrong. Watching them face the consequences makes for riveting reading … This is the work of an elegant and vital novelist, someone fully engaged and grappling with the multitude of difficulties involved in the way we live now.’
Louise Swinn, Sydney Morning Herald
View all reviews
‘Joosten’s plotting is both wonderfully assured and stunningly unexpected: as details fall into place readers cannot but admire her chutzpah even as they respond to the complex humanity of her intimately realised characters.’
‘[Gravity Well] is only the second novel by Melanie Joosten, but it achieves a textured and realistic quality that for some writers takes a lifetime.’
The Saturday Paper
‘Melanie Joosten's devastating second novel reminds us of the risks and redemptive power of human connection. Gravity Well brilliantly conveys the magnitude of love and loss, even as its exquisite planetary imagery reveals how small we truly are.’
Emily Bitto, author of The Strays
‘Cleverly constructed and beautifully written, Gravity Well is an absorbing, heart-squeezing novel about family, friendship, grief, and forgiveness. Joosten’s empathy shines through, as does her insight into how easy it is to wound the people we love the most. In Eve and Lotte, she has created two very different characters, but both display an all-too-believable mix of selfishness, generosity, fragility, and toughness, and their deep, complicated, vital friendship is gorgeously real.’
Emily Maguire, author of An Isolated Incident
‘An expert dissection of friendship and relationships in all their beautiful, terrible, constantly surprising glory … Joosten has a gift for tracing the random lines of connection and disconnection that shape human life: the fractures that break us and the stubborn power of love to put us back together again.’
Kirsten Tranter, author of Hold
‘Exceptionally written … Joosten’s meditations on friendship, ambition and family life are wise and thought-provoking. She has created fully rounded and credibly flawed characters, with an authorial gaze moving seamlessly between the broad and the telescopic.’
Annie Condon, Readings
‘A quiet, intelligent story about loneliness and friendship, about grief tempered by hope. I admired Joosten’s thrilling plot-twist just past the halfway mark, and her beautiful imagery … a pleasure to read.’
Naama Grey-Smith, Australian Book Review