Knowing what you want is hard. Accepting what is possible is harder still.
It is the mid-1980s. In Australia, stay-at-home wives jostle with want-it-all feminists, while AIDS threatens the sexual freedom of everyone. On the other side of the world, the Soviet bloc is in turmoil.
Mikhail Gorbachev has been in power for a year when twenty-four-year-old book illustrator Galina Kogan leaves Leningrad — forbidden ever to return. As a Jew, she’s inherited several generations worth of Russia’s chronic anti-Semitism. As a Soviet citizen, she is unprepared for Australia and its easy-going ways.
Once settled in Melbourne, Galina is befriended by Sylvie and Leonard Morrow, and their adult son, Andrew. The Morrow marriage of thirty years balances on secrets. Leonard is a man with conflicted desires and passions, while Sylvie chafes against the confines of domestic life. Their son, Andrew, a successful mosaicist, is a deeply shy man. He is content with his life and work — until he finds himself increasingly drawn to Galina.
While Galina grapples with the tumultuous demands that come with being an immigrant in Australia, her presence disrupts the lives of each of the Morrows. No one is left unchanged.
Invented Lives tells a story of exile: exile from country, exile at home, and exile from one’s true self.
It is also a story about love.
‘It is a fabulous book ... It lives on ...What I really loved was the changing seasons of all the characters, their inner beings, their outer beings, their strengths.’
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‘This is a compassionate and thoughtful depiction of one aspect of multicultural Australia … Invented Lives will appeal to fans of Australian literary fiction for its depiction of rich inner lives, and the conflict between desire and reality.’
Louise Omer, Books+Publishing
‘One of the best books I’ve read in ages. A dizzy pleasure to read a book with such a compelling story … Exquisitely told.’
‘I liked Invented Lives a lot. It continually held my attention in a way that made me reflect on both my life and the contemporary world. Goldsmith’s writing is extremely assured. The logic of her narrative is impeccable, moving the reader back and forth in a seamless manner. Her characters are authentic (their speech and thoughts are so articulate, perhaps a testament to Goldsmith’s earlier career as a speech pathologist) and her settings very evocative of era and place. Indeed this novel brings home how much has changed in the last three decades, particularly the pace of life and the passing of the analogue age. And Victorian readers will surely reminisce about what a lovely city Melbourne was (and remains).’
Geoffrey Zygier, J–Wire
‘Goldsmith is a masterful storyteller who explores the complex themes of identity and love in her latest novel. Invented Lives deserves a wide audience.’
Mark Rubbo, Readings
‘In her latest novel, [Andrea Goldsmith] tackles the idea and experience of exile from a surprising perspective.’
Jane Sullivan, The Saturday Age
‘[A] complex and nuanced book … Goldsmith’s novel shows careful research in its evocations of time and place … a thoughtful novel.’
Andrew Fuhrmann, The Saturday Paper
‘Invented Lives is seamless historical fiction with attention to detail. It is a heartfelt and human story of exile, love and self-expression, all hypnotically captured by Goldsmith’s flare as a wordsmith … the work’s greatest feature, what truly sets it apart, is its evocative and emotive character construction. Each character is achingly … Goldsmith’s work is unforgettable, literary and beautiful, and profoundly resonates into modern life.’
Mel O’Connor, Echo