Synopses & Reviews
With shades of Water for Elephants
and True Grit
, a stunning debut novel set in the Australian outback about a female horse thief, her bid for freedom, and the two men trying to capture her.
It is 1921. In a mountain-locked valley, Jessie is on the run.
Born wild and brave, by twenty-six she has already lived life as a circus rider, horse and cattle rustler, and convict. But on this fateful night she is just a woman wanting to survive though there is barely any life left in her.
Two men crash through the bushland, desperate to claim the reward on her head: one her lover, the other the law.
But as it has always been for Jessie, it is death, not a man, who is her closest pursuer and companion. And while all odds are stacked against her, there is one who will never give up on her her own child, who awaits her.
"Broadly based on the life of Australian 'wild woman' Jessie Hickman, Collins's debut novel ranges widely over the Australian frontier and into one woman's dark and damaged heart. It's 1921, and Jessie's past may finally be catching up with her: having just given birth to a premature baby and killed her abusive husband, the young horse rustler, former circus performer, and ex-convict is impelled toward distant mountains, where she hopes to find safety, and possibly her lover. That lover, a black man named Jack Brown, has, however, developed an uneasy partnership with a police sergeant who may have his own history with Jessie. The harshness of the human and natural environment, as well as the prevalence of death in the bleak outback setting, is underscored by the narrator; Jessie's story is told by her dead child, speaking from her grave. 'The earth buckles with the stories it holds of all those who have cried and all those who have croaked,' remarks the narrator, and, indeed, Collins's poetic language and salty dialogue tell the story of a woman whose life is inextricable from the bleak landscape she not only traverses but also inhabits." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“This extraordinary novel — propelled by the dark, rich talents of a truly brilliant writer — dazzles, staggers and amazes.” Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love
"[A] page-turner....Jessie, the heroine of this tale set in 1920s Australia, sets her own compass. A horse thief and sometime circus performer, she's being pursued through the hills by her Aboriginal lover and a police sergeant. The chase will leave you breathless." Good Housekeeping
"Collins's gripping debut novel is based on a legendary wild woman....A fast-paced, heart-wrenching story that never loses speed, this extraordinary first novel is not to be missed.” Library Journal (starred review)
"The dead have tales to tell, if only we could hear them....Collins richly evokes a heartbreaking emotional terrain, setting it against the sparse, brutal landscape of the Australian Outback." Kirkus Reviews
“A captivating, epic novel that never loses its heart to scope, The Untold is a surreal saga set in a rugged, unforgiving landscape. Courtney Collins paints a devastating portrait of long-shot love.” Patrick DeWitt, author of the #1 International bestseller, The Sisters Brothers (short-listed for The Man Booker Prize)
About the Author
Courtney Collins lives on the Goulburn River in regional Victoria, Australia. The Untold is her first novel, and she is currently at work on her second novel.