Lovesong, by Alex Miller

She said nothing to his earnestness, his desire to impress her with his belief, his urgent need to acknowledge between them a binding commitment. She was thrilled to hear it on his lips. But it was too much. It was too soon. It weighted her down. She wanted to hear it and she didn’t want to hear it. What she wanted was to laugh with him. To run and play and hide with him, the way children play and hide and tease each other.

Sabiha is content working in their small Tunisian cafe in Paris, serving their regular clientele of North African immigrant workers. But when an Australian tourist stumbles upon the cafe, her world begins to change. Soon deeply in love, the pair are married and John becomes part of Sabiha’s world. All that will complete their happiness is for Sabhia to bear the child she has always known she will have. But when the child does not come, a tragic series of events unfolds.

In Australia several years later, an aging writer, Ken, meets the couple and their young daughter at the cafe they open in Carlton. Ken is intrigued by the family, and especially by the sorrow he sees in Sabiha’s eyes, and is drawn into their story when John seeks him out as a confidante.

Lovesong is a beautiful story of love, loss and passion. Interwoven with Sabiha and John’s story are glimpses of Ken’s story, past and present. As the title suggests, the story is a smooth as one of the songs which Sahiba sings to her customers, carrying readers through the years and twists of the story and leaving them thinking long after the final note is sung.


Lovesong, by Alex Miller
Allen & Unwin, 2009