A traditional bat maker crafts the perfect bat for a promising player on a fast trajectory to the top of the sport – and, for a time, their lives are entwined.
Reader Cricket Bats, one of the last traditional batmakers in England, has a contemporary home in the Antipodes, with Allan Reader keeping the family business alive in a small workshop in Melbourne.
When Todd Harrow, a gifted young batter, catches Allan’s eye, a spark is lit and Allan decides to make a Reader bat for him, selecting the best piece of willow he’s harvested in years to do so.
As Harrow charts a meteoric rise to the highest echelons of the sport, Allan’s magical bat takes centre stage as well, awakening something in him. But can Allan’s fledgling renaissance – hanging as it does on the magic of that bat – carry on after Harrow is stricken by injury and a strained personal life?
Willowman is a love letter to the art and beauty of cricket and a meditation on the inner lives of certain kinds of men and women, for whom it is a way of life.
Not since Jasper Jones have I been so utterly spellbound by the next ball, the state of the pitch and the intricacies of scoring.'
‘I bloody loved this – a gorgeous, heartbreaking examination of so much more than cricket’
‘Moving, gripping, authentic, so tenderly told; at once a page-turner and a life-giving meditation - Willowman is just magic’
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Inga Simpson began her career as a professional writer for government before gaining a PhD in creative writing. Her novel Nest was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and Stella Prize and shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. Where the Trees Were was shortlisted for the Indie Award for Fiction. Inga won the final Eric Rolls Prize for her nature writing and completed a second PhD, exploring the history of Australian nature writers. She lives near the coast among trees.
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