ISBN: 9780980461633 Format: Trade paperback 416pp Rights: World Release / Publication Date: 01 /11 /2008


One woman’s adventurous search for love, meaning and connection.
In the ’70s travel scenes of Afghanistan, India and Thailand, Elsie discovers adventure, friendship and freedom. After three years she returns to her welcoming and loving family in suburban Australia where time seems to have stood still. Disenchanted with the dreary conventions of authoritarian and Catholic Adelaide she becomes a restless spirit torn between the call of family and the world. An ever-searching series of relationships and relocations ultimately takes her as single parent to live on the Greek island of Paros, until tragedy unexpectedly reconnects her with Australia and the complex truth about love and family. This is a deeply affecting, sprawling, beautiful novel about finding one’s way in life and the world.

Lemniscate: a line that travels continuously outward as it travels continuously inward.

“The odyssey of a spirited, brave and curious young woman on the 1970’s ”hippie trail” through Asia and a journey of self-discovery in a changing Australia, Lemniscate is also a tender love story, a vivid and lyrical evocation of place, and a close observation of families and society. Full of colour and character, it is an intriguing, unusual and gripping book which straddles the fertile ground between novel and autobiography with great ease.”
– Sophie Masson.

“Utterly absorbing. It’s a long time since I’ve read a novel that has engaged me so fully. McGrath takes her readers on a journey that is at once deeply personal and global. I not only cared about her characters, but by the final page I cared more for the world.”
– Justin D’Ath.

Gaynor McGrath grew up in Adelaide. She currently lives on the northern tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, where she works in a Rudolf Steiner school, and writes and gardens at every opportunity.

Lemniscate, like Kerouac’s road novels, is imbued with a sense of lived truth. It is a fascinating evocation of a lost age of travel of a particular kind. In Bali, Elsie says: ’Everywhere I see evidence of a beautiful, gentle, intricate culture and at the same time I know that my very presence is part of the corruption and ultimate ending of that world.

More than simply a travel novel, Lemniscate is a meditation on what drives us to travel, how the experience transforms the traveller, and the lessons we can take away from immersing ourselves in other cultures, particularly the experience  of seeing our own society through an anthropologist’s eyes on our return.

Jo Case, Australian Book Review, February 2009


…I slowly became engrossed in the main character’s journey of self-knowledge in 1970s Australia and abroad. Elsie O’Reilly comes from a messy and devoted Catholic family in Adelaide, but cannot conform to their expectations that she settle down; ‘What I want, more than anything in the world, is to be myself’. It is not self-indulgent navel-gazing that Elsie wants, but exploration and connection. She makes strong friendships with people wherever she goes in the world-Afghanistan, India and Greece. There is one special person in particular, a young man called Kiwi, but, being independent, he and Elsie seem to go their own ways. What McGrath has done is give us a memorable character who lives during times of personal and social change, and with whom we can also strongly connect. If only those first few dozen pages were freed from their ordinariness, this would be an outstanding first novel. **** Excellent

Sue Bond, Australian Bookseller & Publisher

…It’s all pretty exotic stuff: being proposed to by a Bedouin son of a sheik and an Afghan prince, hanging out in an opium den, drinking pomegranate juice, breakfasting with Christian missionaries and so forth.

When she returns home to staid Adelaide after three years of intrepid trekking, the tumult of family life and parental expectations of settling down cannot tame her wrestless spirit. Elsie chafes under the strain of having to talk about ‘babies, carpets, tiredness and gossip’ and it isn’t long before she has itchy feet again. Lemniscate is part travelogue, part autobiography and all about the getting of wisdom.

– Thuy On, The Age, Saturday December 13, 2008

…At its heart is well-observed journey for self-knowledge, and the realisation of how important serendipity can be.

Lucy Sussex, Sunday Age, December 21, 2008

The story is beautifully descriptive and sensitively seductive. A very good read.

Tineke Haze www.middlemiss.org


….. by the end of it I had become so emeshed  in Elsie’s world that I was sad to leave it.

Sky Harrison, Wet Ink : The Magazine of New Writing  March 2009