No Turning Back

Stretching from the great Ethiopian famine of 1984-85 to the present day, No Turning Back takes readers on a walk with the Hamar tribe, then to rural Australia, the UK and to a poignant time in the US.

Blurb for No Turning Back

The dots on the plains far below were gazelles, zebras, elephants, buffalo and there were probably leopards in the thorn trees, and a lion pride or two. She felt the stirrings of an even deeper passion for Africa and, with it, a longing for a fulfilled life with Zeno. She wondered if they might have a child together. And if they were to be together, could Australia be included in their life in Ethiopia and Kenya?

Young Australian anthropologist Louise Davitt, embarking on an Ethiopian field trip, is soon living with the world’s poorest people and sampling their culture in her typical adventurous, passionate and unconventional way. No Turning Back is a story of a girl who grows up loving country Australia and later tries to implement change in the lives of African women.

Set against actual political events and cultural realities, the book reveals much about Ethiopia’s vulnerability in the face of natural disasters and political turmoil. Louise Davitt’s determined pursuit of independence leads her to life changing situations, often thrilling, sometimes dangerous. A love triangle eventually augurs bitter experiences of trauma, illness and loss.

Stretching from the great Ethiopian famine of 1984-85 to the present day, No Turning Back takes readers on a walk with the Hamar tribe, to rural Australia, the UK and to poignant times in New York and Paris. Louise triumphs. Yet she is not a hero, just one who copes with life’s wounds. Her personal trauma and grief become a celebration as she taps into the resilience learned from her grandmother and from a magical time spent with women of Ethiopia’s nomadic Hamar. Grasping an unusual opportunity, she turns a setback into a challenge and rebuilds not just her own life, but the lives of others.

Praise for No Turning Back

‘Powerful, realistic and moving – I wept.’
Christine Durham,
former Senior Victorian of the Year
and author of Doing Up Buttons

‘A moving tale of cross-cultural endeavour dealing with problems that for millions of people are all too real. Rees’s knowledge of this complex world is evident; his compassion for the powerless shines through.’
Cate Kennedy
author of Sing and Don’t Cry: a Mexican Journal
Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry 2011.

'Ambitious and stunning ... Rees captures nothing less than the protean experiences of youthful adventure, trauma and loss— a compelling read which celebrates individual courage when faced with some of the great traumas of our time. Bold and original and, as Mary Cunnane wrote of Rees’s Out of Calamity, his writing in this novel is spare and affecting, replete with insight and compassion.'
John Gallehawk
Publisher -

Why did you write No Turning Back?

To demonstrate through the means of a novel how people can cope with one of the most severe and significant traumas of our time and, successfully rebuild fractured lives.

Why in this novel have you focused on Ethiopia?

I have been intrigued as to why Ethiopia experienced recurring famine. Were there other reasons than just a prolonged drought? What other traumas beset this country? Adventurous young travellers from Australia, the UK and US have explored Ethiopia and following in their footsteps I wanted to describe what could and has happened to them. In particular I wanted to know what sort of experiences they encountered and, how they dealt with both trauma and loss. Hence the story moves from childhood impressions and awakenings through early loves to the dawning of cultural and political awareness in a developing country. Throughout the novel, present and past interact as memory of childhood experiences and present day love underpin people’s ability to shift from acute distress to lasting renewal from damnation to the rapture of tangible and unexpected love.

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