Kirsten Tranter
  • Hold

HOLD: March 2016 (Australia)

Three years ago, Shelley’s lover, Conrad, died in a surfing accident.  Now, still in a state of subdued grief, Shelley has just moved into an old Victorian terrace in Paddington with David, her new partner, trying for a new beginning. At home one morning, Shelley discovers a door to a small, red damask-wallpapered room that is not on the plans. There is a window, a fireplace and a beautiful chandelier. But nothing else.

So begins a journey through grief and desire, betrayal and loss. When Shelley meets a man who seems to be Conrad’s uncanny double, the mysterious room becomes a locus for her secret fantasies and fears, and offers an escape that also threatens to become a trap.

“Sensual, spooky, and utterly beguiling: Hold is an enormously powerful work of art, an intimate portrait of grief and betrayal.” – Ceridwen Dovey, author of Only The Animals

“Hold is an uncanny tale and a compelling story of unresolved grief, in a structure so perfectly calibrated that it’s like being at the centre of an unfolding flower. Written with great delicacy and restraint, the novel  is intensely evocative of Sydney and its disorienting subtropical strangeness.” – Amanda Lohrey

“This is an accomplished psychological portrait of a woman traumatised, then immobilised by grief. Shelley has been rendered motionless and emotionless by the shock of her lover’s death, and Tranter skilfully brushes through almost invisible layers to find what lies beneath. The novel unfolds in a series of paintings, each an interior showing Shelley in a different situation, each referring to and reflecting on what is now and what has gone before. Nothing is forced or hurried as Shelley begins to stir into life and the static shimmer of Seurat progresses to a Bonnard interior. The window is open and the curtains billow out. This emotionally refined and contained novel is light years from the blare of any grief memoir.” – Helen Elliot in The Australian

“Tranter’s first novel, The Legacy, showed her facility in riffing on classic forms and stories as she reimagined The Portrait of a Lady. In Hold, she seems to strive for a similar eerie tone as The Turn of the Screw but with even more ambiguity disentangling real from imagined. With few words, she evokes an overwhelming sense of dread, tension and trepidation, a contagion of feeling that spreads through the most ordinary exchanges. Like the traditional Gothic story, Hold reads quickly, easily, affording a few chills. It can be taken as a lark, an entertaining, romantic and strange tale to while away an afternoon. But in keeping with its tradition, the novel also questions why some women still need secret places to express themselves, why female emotion becomes easily equated with mental illness. It also proves that we can create what we need in order to heal.” – Jennifer Levasseur in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

“Tranter’s writing is very contemporary, but it also feels shaped by an appreciation for the classic novels of the English literary tradition. It holds a dagger, or a musket, or whatever people once held threateningly, and asks those old stories to please, please, be alive again.”Readings Newsletter

“Tranter . . . is an assured writer. Her prose is both absorbing and easy to read; polished and careful, but not dense. She displays fine control of pace in this quiet, elegant story, the rhythms of her sentences shifting with the muted, restless energy of her grieving protagonist. . . Likewise there is a measured quality to the unfolding narrative, whose sense of the uncanny emerges slowly and subtly. . . If this is a ghost story, then the ghost remains unseen. The novel is notable for the subtlety with which it conjures elements of the gothic yet stops short of the explicitly supernatural, treading a shifting, permeable line between the real and the impossible.” – Sophia Barnes, Sydney Review of Books.

“As she proved in The Legacy and A Common Loss, Kirsten Tranter loves to create a mood. She has real skill at the slow building malaise that suggests something is not quite right, charged with tension that is both erotic and unnameable. . . Tranter teases the reader with enigmatic and elliptical elements to create an ambiance bordering on the gothic. It’s like being tickled with a peacock feather.” – Caroline Baum, Booktopia