The Secret Life of Connie Star

Fiction · HarperColins

In bookstores June!

Connie Starr is a difficult child. Her mother Flora can’t understand her. Her brothers and sister call her a liar and her father can see himself in her. But Connie sees things the others can’t see and what she sees will save her or kill her.

The community of Ballarat is still recovering from the Great Depression. Polio tears through the community every summer and the second world war is looming. Threatening to bring death and pain to their doorsteps and 3,000 over-sexed over-paid American sailors.

Connie’s father tries to minister to his flock, to lead them through these times. Her mother opens their home to strangers in need. Her brother has his own plans for the war and her sister is thrilled the American’s have invaded Ballarat.  One day a stranger is invited into Connie’s home and changes everything they know and none of them may ever recover.

The Secret World of Connie Starr will set the literary filament ablaze.” – Karen Brooks, Author of The Good Wife of Bath

A Perfect novel – poetic, evocative and hopeful. Your heart will break and then heal for Connie Starr.

Victoria Purman

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Author of The Nurses War

From Robbi

I began this book with just  two sentences: Connie Starr was always a difficult child. Her mother said that when she was born she brought the war with her.

My family history influenced this book, consciously or subconciously. What happens to Connie happened to my mother when she was Connie’s age, the ricochet of this enormous catastrophe, impacted my mother her entire life and affected me as I was growing up. Of course growing up it was difficult to have someone like Connie as a mother, I couldn’t possibly understand why she couldn’t love me, why she was afraid of me and as a child I was unable to understand her fear. Like many, Connie has invisible disabilities that marginalised her from her community and family.

This isn’t just a book about Connie. It’s a book about four families whose members all for one reason of the other don’t quite fit into the world easily. It’s been called “A book that Celebrates Difference” and I love that. The families lives intertwine as I as a writer throw everything at them, death, adultery, war, sickness and 3000 over paid over sexed Americans. But as their creator I also wanted to give my characters love, romance, hope and joy because life always has both and I wanted them to find love and romance and hope and joy in the small insignificant things that we sometimes miss but which are the very things that make life worth living.

I have always struggled with neuro-diverence and with depression. When I am really feeling miserable I try to focus on the small seemingly insignificant things in life, a cup of tea, one of my children spontaneously telling me they love me, the smell of the jasmine in the garden, a good brie cheese and good martini, being with my family and friends because these are the things we sometimes take for granted but which are the very things in which life has meaning, in which we find god and happiness.