The Tulip Tree

Henryk reached out to embrace him, formally, awkwardly. How rarely they’d touched since childhood, thought Adi, as he sank against his brother, how clumsy their love.

Brothers Henryk and Adam Radecki’s relationship is one of fraught love and jealously. Henryk, unhappily married, becomes a rich and successful industrialist, while Adi, a devoted veterinary surgeon, finds and loses love. Their bond is tested throughout their lives, from the 1920s, against the background of Poland’s tragic and tumultuous relationship with Russia, through war, revolution and invasion, until 1954 in the Snowy Mountains of Australia.

Adi’s wife and son are at the heart of this riveting tale, in which family secrets threaten to tear lives apart. Caught up in momentous events, each character reminds us of our power to survive extraordinary times, of the moral choices we make and the dramatic turns our lives can take.

Full of the detail of everyday life, its joys and suffering, The Tulip Tree is engrossing historical fiction at its best, a profoundly moving story of love, sacrifice and loyalty.

  • ‘A breathtaking family saga, set in the darkest of times, about the struggle to love and the courage to go on.’
    Tim Costello AO
  • ‘A beautifully written novel about betrayal and forgiveness (especially of ourselves), about suffering and survival, about the baggage we take with us, and what we leave behind.’
    Cynthia Banham, author of A Certain Light
  • ‘A moving story of how one family survives a horrendous period in history, and of the secrets they carry with them into the future.’
    Joan London, author of The Golden Age
  • ‘A vivid and compelling story of love, loss, and resilience. Told with compassion and wisdom it reminds us of how, even after the most crushing defeats, hope can survive and renewal is possible.’
    Eva Stachniak, author of The Chosen Maiden
  • ‘Fresh with the cadences of everyday life and history, The Tulip Tree is a tender and moving exploration of one family’s fault lines and its enduring connections across time.’
    Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
  • ‘A vivid, challenging and utterly absorbing feat of storytelling, The Tulip Tree asks what moral compass can guide souls united by love but riven by doubt, secrets, betrayals and terror, and its questions reverberate through our own times.’
    Jane Sullivan, author of Storytime
The Lost Child Literary Fiction

Reviewed by Belle Place, editor of Readings Monthly.

The protagonist of Suzanne McCourt’s debut novel, The Lost Child, is Sylvie, a sharp-witted but vulnerable young girl. Living in the small fishing town of Burley Point, her father is violent and angry, her mother brooding and distant. After her adored older brother Dunc goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Sylvie blames herself, and flails to find someone, or something, to buoy her.

Situated on the wild coast of southern Australia, the town teems with movement through Sylvie’s eyes. Stretches of beach with hidden blowholes and thick bush hiding snakes and birdlife both scare and provide comfort. To bring the landscape in this close to her protagonist is a good trick by McCourt; the brimming, coiling environment neatly mirrors Sylvie’s tumultuous home life, allowing another layer of expression.

McCourt’s writing is assured and sinuous, the voice of Sylvie moving with equal measure between the rough and tumble of a child’s perspective and clipped, shrewd observations: ‘…People don’t really want to know if you’re sick. Or that fathers burn houses.’ Sylvie is dynamic, as quickly sending herself down a well of guilt and insecurity over her brother’s disappearance as she can whip into a rage against her absent father or wilting mother. McCourt has afforded Sylvie a witty sense of humour, and despite the bleakness surrounding her, she glimmers.

The Lost Child runs deeper and more darkly than a simple, small-town domestic story, and though not quick-paced, Sylvie captivates. From an ordinary child, McCourt has finely carved a protagonist who refuses to fit the prescribed mould. She is a fire spark, just the type who will burrow herself deeply within the reader, and be not lost at all.


  • ‘In his scholarly work, ‘The Country of Lost Children’, Peter Pierce presents a detailed analysis of the haunting presence of lost children in the history, art and literature of Australia. Suzanne McCourt’s first novel, ‘The Lost Child’, adds another disturbing narrative to the genre.’
    Carmel Bird, The Guardian
  • Interview: Readings Monthly, March, 2014
    with Romy Ash
  • ‘The Lost Child’ is an assured and bittersweet coming-of-age tale with a vivid sense of time and place…The novel is a strong addition to the shelves of Australian literary fiction.’
    Australian Bookseller and Publishing
  • ‘Echoes of Tim Winton … plainspoken but deftly crafted, laced with both humour and searing sadness. Highly recommended.’
    NZ Herald
  • ‘[The Lost Child] reminds me of the quality of Ruth Park’s writing in evoking the strengths and weaknesses of a small community…and the tragedies and humour amongst the everyday…A multi-layered novel with symbolism which stays with you after the last page. A significant writer with compassion. Highly recommended for adult and YA readers.’
    Hazel Edwards
  • ‘There’s a watchful intensity to McCourt’s writing, a remarkable ability to discover within the most concrete details a rich and raw emotion…a novel that is at once very familiar and entirely fresh.’
    Weekend Australian Review
  • ‘Suzanne McCourt has with great empathy and skill created the turmoil in the mind of a little girl…a haunting story, it also demonstrates the power of the human psyche to overcome past difficulties and find ways to fully live.’
    Otago Daily Times
  • ‘Written in beautiful, slow prose…This is a promising debut…You can’t help but be keen to see what she does next.’
    Adelaide Advertiser
  • ‘…in portraying nature…McCourt’s writing is at its most fluent…she depicts the Coorong with the eye of a painter and poet…’
    Australian Book Review
  • The Conversation: Australian literature and summer
    by Stephanie Green
  • The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Life & Style
    January 4, 2014: Treats Ahead, Jane Sullivan

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