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Author: Carrie Cox

Publisher: Affirm Press

Published: June 2023

Nessa spends her professional life caring for others. When she’s not working at an aged-care home, she is running a wellness retreat on a property gifted to her by her father. However, in the aftermath of a serious accident, which has left her physically and emotionally scarred, Nessa struggles to let others into her life.

As the title suggests, Storylines is a novel about stories: those we tell ourselves, the ones we choose to disclose to others and the ones we struggle to articulate at all. In this new offering by Carrie Cox, there are the stories retreat participants share with one another in moments of unguarded vulnerability. At the nursing home, elderly resident Hannah shares memories of the past with Nessa before the start of each shift. And work colleague Campbell facilitates storytelling sessions with the other residents as well as collecting people’s dying words.

Although Nessa helps to create environments that encourage others to share their stories, she is reluctant to divulge any of hers. She reflects, “I am grateful … to be party to the stories, with no requirements to share any of my own”. But how long can she continue to keep a distance from those around her?

Writing with her characteristic blend of humour and pathos, Carrie Cox explores the ways in which we view ourselves and interpret the lives of others. With its well-crafted narrative and fully-realised characters, Storylines will have readers reflecting on their own way of being in the world. This is a novel that will resonate with anyone who has ever longed to share a story “the way you want it to be understood” or hopes to hear someone else whisper, “I can be … one of the people you let in.”


Reviewed by Melinda Tognini

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