The Virgin & the Whale: A Love Story

Author(s): Carl Nixon


A touching, clever novel about stories, about using them to create your own identity, and about the way they can forge bonds of love. It is 1919. Elizabeth Whitman is working as a nurse in the local hospital, waiting for her husband to return from war, though he is missing in action, 'presumed dead'. She keeps him alive for their four-year-old son, Jack, by telling the story of a man she calls The Balloonist, who went away in a hot-air balloon and has adventures in exotic countries. When she is asked to nurse a returned soldier whose head injury has reduced him to an animal-like state with no memory, Elizabeth starts telling stories to him. It is through them that she manages to engage his interest and offer him a new life more ways than one.


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Carl Nixon is an award-winning short story writer, novelist and playwright, who is, as The New Zealand Listener declared, 'stunningly talented'. He has twice won the Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition, and was runner-up for the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Short Story Competition in 1999, and won its premier prize in 2007. His first book, Fish 'n' Chip Shop Song and other stories went to number one on the New Zealand bestselling fiction list, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book. Nixon completed his first novel while he was the Ursula Bethell/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence at Canterbury University in 2006. The resulting novel, Rocking Horse Road, saw him identified as 'a major talent' by North and South, and was long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Awards 2009. His second novel, Settler's Creek, was also long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, in 2012. His novels have also been published in Germany. His writing for theatre includes The Birthday Boy and The Raft, numerous plays for children, and he has adapted for the stage Lloyd Jones's novel The Book of Fame and JM Coetzee's Disgrace. Much of his writing is typified by humour, even in dark situations. The New Zealand Herald has said of him: 'Nixon still shows what a master craftsman he can be ... Exquisite writing.' In North and South, Warwick Roger said of Rocking Horse Road:'Nixon writes beautifully. He gets the style and timbre of teenagers just right ... Nixon has fulfilled the promise he showed with last year's book of short stories, fish'n'chip shop song.'Owen Marshall wrote of Settlers' Creek: 'With no flamboyance, but with talent and a scrupulous art, Carl Nixon establishes himself as one of our best younger writers.'

General Fields

  • : 9781775533757
  • : Random House
  • : Vintage
  • : August 2013
  • : 234mm x 153mm
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Carl Nixon
  • : Paperback
  • : 1st Edition
  • : very good
  • : 261