THE UNTOLD

Courtney Collins

It is 1921. In a mountain-locked valley, amid squalls of driving rain, Jessie is on the run.

Born wild and brave, by twenty-six she has already lived life as a circus rider, a horse and cattle rustler, and a convict. Yet on this fateful night she is just a woman wanting to survive—though there is barely any life left in her.

She mounts her horse and points it toward the highest mountain in sight. Soon bands of men will crash through the bushland, desperate to claim the reward on her head. And in their wake will be two more men—one her lover,

more …

It is 1921. In a mountain-locked valley, amid squalls of driving rain, Jessie is on the run.

Born wild and brave, by twenty-six she has already lived life as a circus rider, a horse and cattle rustler, and a convict. Yet on this fateful night she is just a woman wanting to survive—though there is barely any life left in her.

She mounts her horse and points it toward the highest mountain in sight. Soon bands of men will crash through the bushland, desperate to claim the reward on her head. And in their wake will be two more men—one her lover, the other the law—each uncertain whether to save her or themselves.

But as it has always been for Jessie, it is death, not a man, who is her closest pursuer and companion. And while all odds are stacked against her, there is one who will never give up on her…

less …
  • Berkley
  • Paperback
  • June 2015
  • 304 Pages
  • 9780425276174

Buy the Book

$16.00

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Courtney Collins

Courtney Collins lives on the Goulburn River in regional Victoria (Australia). The Untold is her first novel and she is currently at work on her second.

Praise

This extraordinary novel—propelled by the dark, rich talents of a truly brilliant writer—dazzles, staggers, and amazes.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love

A captivating, epic novel that never loses its heart to scope, The Untold is a surreal saga set in a rugged, unforgiving landscape. Courtney Collins paints a devastating portrait of long-shot love.”—Patrick deWitt, author of #1 international bestseller The Sisters Brothers (short-listed for The Man Booker Prize)

Collins’s gripping debut novel is based on a legendary wild woman…A fast-paced, heart-wrenching story that never loses speed, this extraordinary first novel is not to be missed.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“The dead have tales to tell, if only we could hear them…Collins richly evokes a heartbreaking emotional terrain, setting it against the sparse, brutal landscape of the Australian Outback.”—Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions

Who is the narrator of The Untold? Do you consider the narrator to be reliable, or

unreliable? Is The Untold the narrator’s experience of Jessie, or Jessie’s life as seen (or

not seen) by the narrator?

What is the author’s purpose in beginning the narration with the question: If the dirt

could speak whose story would it tell?

The author states that “This is Australia. The dirt is a morgue.” What does The

Untold say about colonial Australia?

What do you think is the significance of Andrew Barlow asking Jack Brown, “…are

you black enough to be my tracker?” How does this relate to America’s civil rights

history?

What is the significance of Jack Brown’s relationship with Lay Ping and The Seven

Sisters?

How does the landscape reveal the characters? To what extent is it oppressive and to

what extent is it redemptive?

Consider the motivation for Andrew Barlow’s final actions. Why do you think he

made the decision he did?

Consider Jessie’s role as an escape artist? In what ways does she reveal herself as one?

Discuss Andrew Barlow and Jessie’s relationship. How does it connect with Jessie’s

relationship with the boy, Joe, Bill and the other riders in the gang?

Why do you think the author diverts the narrative in one section to a man who has

been buried for forty years? What is his relationship to the other characters, in particular,

the old woman and the old man who find Jessie by the river?

Consider the following quote: That is all I know: death is a magic hall of mirrors and

within it there is a door and the door opens both ways. How does The

Untold challenge the finite notion of death?

What do you make of the ending? What do you think it means,  “And then, as I felt in

my own heart a wish for her freedom, in one single and shimmering note I heard her. She

said: I am here.” ?