UQP – 2009
An unexpected letter from her childhood friend Grace forces May to relive their extraordinary past and confront the events that drove them apart fifty years earlier.
May’s father won the Diamond Anchor, a dilapidated pub perched on the ocean’s edge, in a game of cards – a gamble which positioned her at the heart of the close-knit community for seventy years, and gave her custody of its stories.
Now, trying to maintain a careful balance between the demands of the collapsing building and her own solitary life, May must decide whether to reach out to Grace, whose health is fading, or let her go.
With all the humour and storytelling of small-town life, The Diamond Anchor is a brilliant tale of the places and relationships that define us.
“Mills writes with great restraint and sensitivity… [an] assured debut.”
– Australian Book Review
“Deftly, sympathetically and with a wry sureness of tone, she delineates locale, evokes scenery, conjures a community so real its members come and go like familiars, and captures with relish the idiosyncratic speech rhythms of each one of them… Just the ticket.”
– The Australian
“Mills’ shapely novel offers the reader many unexpected rewards, not least the seductive lilt of its prose, the often dour humour of its stories and the attractive self-sufficiency of its main character.”
– Adelaide Advertiser
“In the character of the tenacious and stoical May McCabe, Mills has given us a publican with whom it’s more than agreeable to spend some time.”
– Canberra Times
“You close the book left with a rich sense of the place… An engrossing read.”
– Alice Springs News
“Mills writes beautifully, creating details with skill, scenes with a lightness of touch, and dialogue that is natural. ****”
– Bookseller and Publisher
“A beautifully written tale of friendship, family and secrets set in the Northern Illawarra. An impressive first novel”
– Illawarra Mercury
“I couldn’t put this book down until I had read the whole story, until I got all the answers. The writing is evocative and fresh and the characters well drawn. All the threads of the many levels of storytelling, true or false, travel together at a wonderful pace to a great ending.”
“Toughly lyrical, clean cut but able to incite smoke, mist and seascape to deliver colour and sensuality at an instant. The effects are quietly intoxicating… Her writing of country is quietly, sombrely magnificent, and her intelligent braiding together of politics of several kinds with their histories and her characters is impressive. This is somebody to keep watching.”
– Reeling & Writhing