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If You Were Mine - Cover
"Haunting and beautifully written - both love and loss are vividly explored."      Jane Rogers, author of Mr Wroe's Virgins and The Voyage Home

"On the fourteenth of February 1962, in the outback settlement of Sugarbag, Esther Hayes looked out of the schoolhouse window and saw three children struck by lightning. The boys were playing cricket on a strip of stubble field that did for a schoolyard; minutes earlier she had heard them laughing as they hammered in the wicket with a stone."

Numbed by tragedy, Esther retreats into silence, while her young daughter, Aurora, is left to fend for herself. Aurora's childhood is played out against the backdrop of her father's absence and her mother's neglect, and she is forced to take comfort wherever she can. The fierce attachments she forms never seem to last - until she abandons Australia for Dublin, and her father's native Tipperary.

If You Were Mine is a story of mothers and daughters, of the anguish of unexpected partings, and the intense delight that can descend out of the blue.

While thinking about an Australian setting for the early part of the novel, I came across a secondhand book by George Farwell called Ghost Towns Of Australia. During the 1960s, Farwell had visited outback towns on the edge of extinction and others that were already dead. One of these was Hammond in South Australia's mid-north; it was close enough for me to visit with ease, and I was keen to see how it had fared since Farwell's visit.

I imagined I would find a tumble of stones, perhaps the roofless remnants of the pub and not much more, but I was in for a surprise. Although some houses had been given up to the weather, others were obviously cared for. A few were boarded up, most displayed fierce warning signs to tresspassers, and to my astonishment there was a telephone box in working order outside the old post office.

The ruined Kanyacka homestead was a different story - once owned by the third son of a Scottish Earl who drowned while crossing its flooded creek on horseback, the place reeked of hard lives and times. Both places were north of Goyder's Line of Rainfall, the remarkably accurate division of viable land from drought affected country plotted by George Woodroffe Goyder in the nineteenth century.

Images From The Heartbreak Plains
Beyond Goyder's Line
General Store
Empty Pub
The Pub in Hammond 2007
Kanyacka Ruins
Death Rock
Death Rock, Kanyacka Homestead
Jacka's Brewery
Jacka's Brewery - Melrose
Fire-hollowed Tree

Images From Ireland

Marsh's Library Reading Cages
Musik Shop
Barber's Shop
Temple Bar, Dublin
Hairy Lemon Bar
Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
Doorway with Three Saints


"Lefevre measures lyricism with poignancy and If You Were Mine is a tender, resonant achievement." Rebecca Starford, The Weekend Australian

"This is a very talented writer because not only does she understand paradox, but she knows language, housing us and then unhousing us with the same ease fate does, setting us down in the wrong place, in the same way as the characters in her first novel, Nights At The Asylum listed towards tragedy, through a 'string of bad decisions'." Brian Castro


Nights in the Asylum - Australian trade paperback edition
If you believe that you will never need to seek asylum, think again. Catastrophe can turn a comfortable life inside out and leave any one of us stranded, dependent on the kindness of strangers, or vulnerable to their cruelty.

Set in a mining town in the Australian outback, Nights in the Asylum is the story of three people seeking shelter. Stricken with grief and guilt following the death of her daughter, Miri flees the city for the quiet calm of Havana Gardens, a once fine but now dilapidated mansion built for her grandmother. On the road she rescues Aziz, an Afghan refugee on the run from detention; then, in the attic of the old house, Miri discovers Suzette Moran and her baby daugher hiding, and grants them

Slowly, in the hot confined spaces of the house, the three runaways unravel their stories,
UK hardback edition
but when Suzette's policeman husband comes looking for her, it sparks a chain of events that will disrupt their already fragile peace.


Nights in the Asylum was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book. It was the winner of the 2008 Nita B. Kibble Literary Award for Women Writers, and the 2009 People's Choice Award.


Nights In The Asylum was published in paperback by Vintage (Random House Australia- (top right) on 2nd April 2007, and in hardback by Picador UK (right) on 18th May 2007. The paperback edition was available in the UK from the 1st May 2008.


"Lefevre writes beautiful, smooth sentences that at times reminded me of (Michael) Ondaatje's. She lays out her narrative, too, with similar tranquillity and poise."

Delia Falconer
Australian Literary Review

A tale about home, loss, survival and what asylum - in all its forms - really means. Lefevre's debut novel succeeds in getting right under your skin

Helen Chappell

"Nights in the Asylum is subtle, rich, wise and seductive. ... it's a gorgeous act of defiance to those who say literary fiction is in trouble."

Nicholas Jose

"Nights in the Asylum is an interesting and accomplished book, far from didactic in its portrayal of mistreated refugees, or domestic violence, Aziz's and Zett's stories create a powerful undertow beneath and alongside Miri's grief."

Dorothy Johnston
Canberra Times

"The stories spin out in broken form, like a handful of photographs splayed on a between these narratives are snapshots of other people's lives, tiny bright moments of existence that illuminate the.major tales and cast shadows in the corners of the stories we are following."

Kay Sexton

" ...this is an important Australian novel which addresses the contemporary dilemma of the asylum seeker. The novel comes at a time when the refugee issue is transforming from one of general apathy towards 'queue-jumpers' around the time of the SIEVX (click here to vist the SIEVX website) to a burgeoning collective empathy (perhaps guilt) towards refugees genuinely seeking asylum in this country."

Rob Walker