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Inspired by McKinnon’s own family history, 'To Sing of War' is a rich, compelling and intricately woven novel of love, war and friendship.

Book cover for 'To Sing of War' by Catherine McKinnon.

Inspired by McKinnon’s own family history, To Sing of War is a rich, compelling and intricately woven novel of love, war and friendship, perfect for readers of Anthony Doerr, Richard Flanagan, Shirley Hazzard and Barbara Kingsolver.

December 1944 In New Guinea, a young Australian nurse, Lotte Wyld, chances upon her first love, Virgil Nicholson, a soldier in the Allies' hard-fought jungle campaign. At Los Alamos in the United States, idealistic physicists Miriam Carver and Fred Johnson join Robert Oppenheimer and a team of brilliant scientists in a collective dream to build a weapon that will stop all war, while Kitty Oppenheimer wrestles with restrictions on her freedom. And on the sacred island of Miyajima in Japan, Hiroko Narushima is doing her best to protect her family.

Each of these people yearns to belong, yet each fiercely protects their independence. Secrets, misunderstandings and fears burden them; shame shapes them; hope and imagination lift them up. They are caught in a moment of history, both enthralled and appalled by actions they must undertake.

A beautiful, rich and intricately woven novel, To Sing of War asks how one person can make a difference in a world that is wondrous, thrilling and endangered. It insists on our interconnectedness, hums with the energy of the world and is a blazingly powerful and deeply moving account of friendship, love and war.

About the author

Catherine McKinnon lives in the Southern Highlands with her husband, painter and sculptor Gary Christian. She teaches creative writing at the University of Wollongong.

Her novel Storyland (Fourth Estate, 2017) was shortlisted for five literary awards including, in 2018, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Barbara Jefferis Award and the Voss Literary Prize. Merrigong Theatre has commissioned an adaption of the novel, to be co-written by Catherine and Aunty Barb Nicholson.

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