River Lines

Represented by:
Diana Tyler



Publication date:
August 1995

Foreign rights controlled by:

Foreign rights sold:

Hodder Moa Becket (NZ) 1995

Longlisted for the Orange Prize.

A story of two very different women, whose paths cross only briefly, but whose lives, and the lives of the next generation, are profoundly affected by the mysterious bond that is forged between them.

Deidre Byrne grows up in the early part of the twentieth century in a remote area of rural New Zealand. Her life, as the eldest daughter of a stern farming father, whose second marriage has consigned her to the role of despised step child, is one of physical hardship and emotional deprivation.

Sarah Dutton’s background, by contrast, is one of family affection and social privilege. But when she falls in love with Louis, a radical artist, a chain of events is set in motion that will create a complex web of connection between these two vastly different families.

Ranging from the farms and cities of New Zealand, to 1960s London, and the fictional Cotswold village of Little Chippingham, River Lines creates a panorama of restless twentieth century life, its reverse emigrations, separations, and connections.


‘An instant modern classic.’ Quote Unquote

‘An epic of New Zealand family life… Sandy's gift is to explore beneath the public face that individuals present to the world, the mask that… reveals the passions of seething anger, frustration and violence… An absorbing 500 pages.’ Claudia Bell. NZ Herald

‘A good crafted read… strong, ambivalent, satisfying relationships.’ David Hill. The Listener

‘Sandys’ most substantial achievement, shortlisted for a UK award, interweaves the histories of two contrasting Canterbury families in a dynastic plot rich in strong action and emotion. The hard-won bond of settlers with the land is particularly well established.’ Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature