The Secret World of Connie Starr

The Secret World of Connie Starr

Robbi Neal


  • Description
  • Author
  • Info
  • Reviews


A stunning evocation of Australian life through the war to the 1950s, this novel is intimate and sweeping, immediate and dreamlike - a magical rendering of darkness and joy, and the beauty inherent in difference. For readers of Sarah Winman's Still Life, Trent Dalton's All Our Shimmering Skies and Rosalie Ham's The Dressmaker.

Connie Starr was always a difficult child. Her mother knew as soon as Connie entered the world that day in Ballarat in 1934 and opened her lungs to scream, there was more chaos in the world than before and it wouldn't leave until Connie did. From the safety of a branch high in her lemon tree where she speaks to angels, she sees the world for what it is - a swirling mass of beauty and darkness, of trauma and family, of love and war and truth and lies - lies that might just undo her and drive her to a desperate act.

This ambitious, complex and insightful novel intertwines numerous stories of lives from before World War II and beyond, recreating with intimacy and breadth a world that is now lost to us. This book is a brightly coloured patchwork quilt of everything from shoes to polio, lemon trees to rivers, death to life that melds into one beautiful, luminous work of art.

'The Secret World of Connie Starr will set the literary firmament ablaze. This brilliant, quintessentially Australian ode to difference, transcends time and place - it's an achingly lovely tale that shines long after the last page.' Karen Brooks, author of The Good Wife of Bath


Robbi Neal:

Robbi Neal's first book SUNDAY BEST, a memoir was developed as part of the HarperCollins/Varuna awards program and published by HarperCollins in 2004. AFTER BEFORE TIME, which told stories of indigenous life in a remote community, was published in 2016. THE ART OF PRESERVING LOVE, a story that spanned 25 years from 1905 to 1930 was published in 2018 under the pen name Ada Langton. Robbi also paints and is currently working towards an exhibition scheduled for 2022 at Redot Fine Art Gallery, Singapore. She is a mama of five wonderful humans (you're welcome world).

She has lived in country Victoria, Australia, for most of her life and lives only a few of blocks from where her novel THE SECRET WORLD OF CONNIE STARR (2022) is set. She loves to walk down Dawson Street past the church her grandfather preached in, the same church with the same columns that appear in in this book.

When Robbi isn't writing, she is painting, or reading or hanging out with her family and friends, all of whom she adores. She loves procrasti-cooking, especially when thinking about the next chapter in her writing. She also loves cheese, any cheese, all cheese and lemon gin or dirty martinis, the blues, and more cheese.

Photo Credit: Indea Leslie