Author(s): Emily Bitto
In The Strays, Evan Trentham is the wild child of the Melbourne art world of the 1930s. He and his captivating wife, Helena, attempt to carve out their own small niche, to escape the stifling conservatism they see around them, by gathering together other like-minded artists. They create a utopian circle within their family home, offering these young artists a place to live and work, and the mixed benefits of being associated with the infamous Evan.At the periphery of this circle is Lily Struthers, the best friend of Evan and Helena's daughter Eva. Lily is infatuated by the world she witnesses, and longs to be part of this enthralling makeshift family.As Lily observes years later, looking back on events that she still carries painfully within her, the story of this groundbreaking circle involves the same themes as Evan Trentham's art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it is not Evan, nor the other artists he gathers around him, but his own daughters who pay the debt that is owing.The Strays is an engrossing story of ambition, sacrifice and compromised loyalties from an exciting new talent.
Emily Bitto lives in Melbourne. She has a Masters in Literary Studies and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including Meanjin, Island, HEAT, The Age, The Saturday Paper, and The Sydney Morning Herald.Emily is an obsessive reader, music fan, cook and dog-carer (having fostered 11 rescue dogs in one year). She also co-owns and runs Carlton wine-bar, Heartattack and Vine.