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Elegy by Jane Abbott

Book cover for Elegy by Jane Abbott

Elegy by Jane Abbott (Penguin Random House Australia)

Judges' Comments

Set in a small regional town in Victoria, Elegy tackles the theme of reincarnation through the stories of a group of young people. Some of them, though, have known each other more than once. Using a wide array of historical myths and narratives as its foundation, Elegy is told from different points of view, each swirling around the reincarnated lovers Caitlin and Michael, whose doomed story repeats through the ages. Reaching back towards such seminal works as Alan Garner’s The Owl Service and Dianne Gabaldon’s Outlander, this memorable speculative fiction novel examines aspects of afterlife through the prism of Australian small-town life.

The motif of the elegy — the song for the dead — functions not just as the title, but also as the stylistic motif which drives almost every aspect of the writing, plotting and characterisation. Driven by a clever idea with some lovely stylistic touches, it is indeed a song for the dead who, in this case, happen to be the two very alive protagonists. Abbott has woven stories together to create a narrative that stays with the reader long after the closing pages.