Inga Simpson | Paperback| October 2022
'Joyous storytelling at its best. I was enthralled' SARAH WINMAN, author of Still Life
'I bloody loved this - a gorgeous, heartbreaking examination of so much more than cricket' ROBBIE ARNOTT, author of Limberlost
'Not since Jasper Jones have I been so utterly spellbound by the next ball, the state of the pitch and the intricacies of scoring' KATE MILDENHALL, author of The Mother Fault
From the critically acclaimed author of Mr Wigg comes an enthralling literary novel about a batmaker and a gifted young cricketer, set around the time the game began changing. For fans of Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding and Joseph O'Neill's Netherland.
Cricket has a willow heart. Batmakers around the world have tried everything, crafting bats from birch, maple, ash, even poplars . . . After two hundred years, cricket bat making is still beholden to a single species: Salix alba caerulea - or white willow
Reader Cricket Bats, one of the last traditional batmakers back in England, has a contemporary home in the Antipodes, with Allan Reader keeping the family business alive in a small workshop in Melbourne.
When Todd Harrow, a gifted young batter, catches Allan's eye, a spark is lit and Allan decides to make a Reader bat for him, selecting the best piece of willow he's harvested in years to do so.
As Harrow charts a meteoric rise to the highest echelons of the sport, leaving his equally talented sister's dreams in his wake, Allan's magical bat takes centre stage as well, awakening something in him. But can Allan's fledgling renaissance - hanging as it does on the magic of that bat - carry on after Harrow is stricken by injury and a strained personal life?
Set as the new short form of the game began to gain prominence, Willowman is a love letter to the art and beauty of cricket and a meditation on the inner lives of certain kinds of men and women, for whom it is a way of life. Award-winning author Inga Simpson writes exquisitely about a national sport you will never view the same way again.
'Heartfelt . . . Uplifting . . . Simpson explores family, priorities, the pain of making difficult choices and the knowledge that it's never too late to start over. This is an uplifting book that will satisfy both cricket lovers and readers who enjoy loving stories about beginning again' BOOKS+PUBLISHING
'Willowman may well be the perfect Australian novel' READINGS
'A book for the summer, one to throw in the kitbag to read during rain delays, or between overs in the stands, to read even if you're not a fan of the game' CANBERRA TIMES