> Skip to content
  • Published: 30 October 2017
  • ISBN: 9780143786986
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $38.00

A Sea-Chase

At sea can be a beautiful and ferocious place to find yourself – alone and together.

Growing up in inland Australia, Judy, a young teacher, has rarely seen the sea. But when she flees a rioting classroom one dismal Friday, a dud and a failure, she gets drunk and wakes up on a boat. Overnight her life changes; she is in love with being on the water and in love with Wes Bannister who lives on the boat. Sailing was not something Judy had ever thought about wanting, but now she craved it. Wind was the best teacher she’d had, by far…

From then on, Judy believes that the one trusted continuation of herself is with Wes, and always will be, but then events at sea challenge their closeness. Must they become competitors against each other in the push to be equals? It seems they must.

A Sea-Chase is a novel that vividly tracks ambition, self-realisation, and lasting love tied up in a sea story. The idea that nobody who sets off to do something alone, without family, friends, rivals, and a pressing duty to the world, ever does so alone, finds beautiful, dramatic expression in Roger McDonald's tenth, and most surprising novel.

  • Published: 30 October 2017
  • ISBN: 9780143786986
  • Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $38.00

About the author

Roger McDonald

Roger McDonald was born at Young, NSW, and educated at country schools and in Sydney. For many years he has lived on farms (no farm animals except poultry and a corrugated iron sheep these days) in southern NSW, with intervals spent in Sydney and New Zealand.

His first novel was 1915, winner of the Age Book of the Year, and made into an eight-part ABC-TV series (available on DVD and “looking like a bleached-out relic of a forgotten age when they just happened to have television,” he says). His account of travelling the outback with a team of New Zealand shearers, Shearers' Motel, won the National Book Council Banjo Award for non-fiction. His internationally bestselling novel Mr Darwin's Shooter, was awarded the New South Wales, Victorian, and South Australian Premiers' Literary Awards. The Ballad of Desmond Kale won the 2006 Miles Franklin Award and South Australian Festival Prize for Fiction. A long story that became part of When Colts Ran was awarded the O. Henry Prize (USA) in 2008. A companion novel, The Following (2013) attracted readers as a eulogy to country life at the close of a hard era. McDonald maintains a writing interest with a new book every three or so years and has eight titles in print with Penguin Random House. His other novels are Slipstream, Rough Wallaby, Water Man, and The Slap.

As a writer with “a sure, steady command of how the Australian bush looks, smells and feels, in each season and in all types of weather” (Mark Thomas, Canberra Times) McDonald once swore “never to do water or grass”, but with his tenth novel, A Sea-Chase, he upends all that and goes to sea.

“Writing about the sea came as a revelation,” says McDonald, “partly the result of going to New Zealand every summer and sailing, starting with a 12ft dinghy and trying to keep up with Kiwis whose second nature off the rugby field is on the water. Partly too A Sea-Chase is inspired by lone sailing accounts, starting with sports’ autobiographies and ranging through to the diaries of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which leave no reader in doubt there’s a spiritual dimension involved. Precise sea language glistens like freshly applied paint wherever it’s used, but also, I had to, in this story, keep hold of the driest, remotest pinch of Australian dirt and spread it into the Southern Ocean. How this feeds into the story, in fact makes it happen, was powerfully gratifying to me as a writer.”

Also by Roger McDonald

See all

Praise for A Sea-Chase

A Sea-Chase is a salty affair, mixing descriptive writing about the sea with portrayals of characters grappling with politics and life on the ocean waves, set in the late 1970s and '80s. The heart and soul of the novel is McDonald's gripping and poetic description of sailing and the sea. And there is, as there should be, a thrilling shipwreck, showing that the sea can be cruel, as well as kind to sailors ... it's also a book about the sea itseld - a subject that has inspired great literature for centuries. the tradition continues.

Phil Brown, QWeekend, The Courier-Mail

A brilliantly controlled hybrid fiction. It is a democratic epic, a human comedy and an exploration of how, to their cost, many are wounded solitaries, however companionable they seem. There are no easy surprises in A Sea-Chase, rather a clear-eyed apprehension by McDonald of what idealism and perversity, inextricably blended, can enable individuals to attempt. The ending of the novel is quiet and poignant, though it does not — one hopes — signal the conclusion of one of the most original, un­obliged and compelling careers of Australian novelists who, happily, are still among us.

Peter Pierce, The Australian

A Sea-Chase will satisfy landlubbers and boaties alike with nautical jargon and poetic ocean scenes, though it's McDonald's unexpected turns of phrase that set him apart. A Sea-Chase is a story about being a little lost and looking for a steadfast belief, a guiding star: love and freedom to temper self-doubt and anxious expectation.

Helen Sullivan, The Sydney Morning Herald

When McDonald puts out to sea, so to speak, he is in splendid form, at his most engaged and brilliant.

Brian Matthews, Australian Book Review

This is a story about lives lived differently, risks taken to pursue dreams and not compromising in order to be honest in relationships and in the rest of life. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Melissa Wilson, Good Reading magazine

A Sea-Chase tells the story of a life-changing meeting between Judy, a young teacher from outback Australia, and Wes, who lives on a boat in Sydney Harbour. Told with the simplicity and clarity that epitomises McDonald's prose, A Sea-Chase tells of Judy and Wes's evolving relationship. A Sea-Chase is a novel that vividly records ambition, self-realisation and lasting love tied up in a beautiful, dramatic sea story. In the end, Judy, the girl from the bush, achieves her ambition at sea, crossing vast oceans alone.

Peter Campbell, AFLOAT

Related titles