Flock by Lyn Hughes

In 1950 Francis and Lilian meet by chance at Central Station in Sydney and the attraction is immediate. They fall in love, get married and move to the Blue Mountains where they have a daughter, Adelaide. Francis, inspired by the wild bush landscape, begins to design wallpaper featuring Australian birds and plants with unique flocking made of eucalyptus bark. He eventually becomes renowned around the world, while Lilian feels that her own creativity has been thwarted.

The chapters telling Francis and Lilian’s story are alternated with chapters set in 1986 about their now adult daughter. Addie has become an expert on wallpaper and is leading a team restoring a beautiful old house in the Blue Mountains. Returning to the landscape of her childhood, as well as corresponding with her father’s biographer, have made her revisit an uncomfortable past. We also learn of the history of the house, as well as the studies and personal lives of her team. And along the way we learn an awful lot about wallpaper – who could have imagined that the history of wallpaper would be so interesting?!

Flock explores the many different kinds of love, as well as the difficulties and rewards of leading a creative life. Lyn Hughes is a great storyteller, and her novel is told with confidence and energy. Trade Paperback, $33

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