The House on the Hill

The House on the Hill

By  Susan Duncan

The third memoir from the author of bestsellers Salvation Creek and The House at Salvation Creek.

The third memoir from the author of bestsellers Salvation Creek and The House at Salvation Creek.

The third memoir from the author of bestsellers Salvation Creek and The House at Salvation Creek.
In The House on the Hill, Susan Duncan reaches an age where there’s no point in sweating long-term ramifications. There aren’t any. This new understanding delivers an unexpected bonus – the emotional freedom and moral clarity to admit to hidden and often fiendish facts of ageing and, ultimately, the find ways to embrace them.


This, in turn, unleashes an overwhelming desire to confront her intractable 95-year-old mother with the dreadful secrets of the past before it is too late, no matter the consequences. It is the not-knowing, she says, that does untold damage.
Interwoven with stories from the land – building a sustainable eco-house on the mid-coast of New South Wales with her engineer husband, Bob, and grappling with white-eyed roans, dogs, bawling cattle markets, droughts and flooding rains, not to mention blunt-speaking locals – this is a book about a mother and daughter coming to terms, however uneasy, with the awful forces that shaped their relationship.

As the inconstancies of age slow her down, Susan Duncan writes with honesty about discovery and forgiveness, and what it takes to rework shrinking boundaries into a new and rich life.

Format & Editions

Trade Paperback

9780143780502

October 3, 2016

Bantam Australia

RRP $34.99

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EBook

9780143780489

October 3, 2016

RHA eBooks Adult

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Paperback

9780143780496

October 16, 2017

Bantam Australia

RRP $22.99

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Extract

The great shift from saltwater bays to grassy paddocks, from boats to tractors, began innocently enough with a phone call at the tail end of 2007. A bloke called Michael Baker was on a make-or-break mission to save the family brickworks. If his tall red chimneys kept gushing black smoke into the blue skies around Wingham, he told Bob, one day there’d be a knock at his door and he’d be ordered to clean up or close down. Five generations turned to dust on the back of a stranger’s signature. Even the thought must have felt like a sharp pain. ‘We need a new kiln. Can you help us?’ he asked.

Bob was 63 years old, a civil engineer who specialised in combustion. I was 55, a journalist turned author. We were both technically retired. No mortgages, no dependents, enough resources to see us comfortably through – provided we didn’t go mad or fall for one of those scams aimed at people looking for an easy windfall. Old people, mostly. Desperate. In our separate ways, we’d always lived prudently, understanding cash was a tool that gave us choices but that nothing saved us in the end. In other words, we weren’t giant risk-takers, although we were always willing to have a go if the odds weren’t stacked against us.

‘From what I understand,’ Bob said, ‘the brickworks are already operating leanly and finding the money for a new kiln will be tough. I might spend a year busting my gut on a design that will end up in the bottom drawer forever.’

There were other issues: the future of bricks in a new high-tech, quick-fix, temporary world was anybody’s guess. Family members were bitterly divided about the long-term benefits when piled against the short-term investment. Wingham, a small town on the mid-north coast, was three and a half hours north of Pittwater if the traffic behaved – a significant drive. After a while, Bob returned Michael’s call. The answer, with regret, was no.

Also by Susan Duncan