fbpx

Books

Black Cat
Black Cat
Black Cat
NEW!

The Anniversary

by Stephanie Bishop

For fans of Lisa Halliday and Susan Choi, The Anniversary is a simmering page-turner about an ascendant writer, the unresolved death of her husband, and what it takes to emerge on her own

  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Page Count 432
  • Publication Date July 18, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6167-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $18.00
  • Imprint Black Cat
  • Publication Date July 18, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6168-0
  • US List Price $18.00

Novelist J.B. Blackwood is on a cruise with her husband, Patrick, to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Her former professor, film director, and cult figure, Patrick is much older than J.B.. When they met, he seemed somehow ageless, as all gods appear in the eyes of those who worship them. But now his success is starting to wane and J.B. is on the cusp of winning a major literary prize. Her art has been forever overseen by him, now it may overshadow his.

For days they sail in the sun, nothing but dark water all around them. Then a storm hits and Patrick falls from the ship. J.B. is left alone, as the search for what happened to Patrick – and the truth about their marriage – begins.

Propulsive and fiercely intelligent, The Anniversary is exquisitely written with a swift and addictive plot.  It’s a novel that asks: how legible, in the mind of the writer, is the line between reality and plot? How do we refuse the people we desire? And what is the cost, to ourselves, to others and to our art, if we don’t?

Praise for The Anniversary:

The Anniversary is a haunting mystery, sophisticated, subtle and subversive. Bishop considers the discipline, scrupulous and otherwise, required to make a marriage, as well as to make art, capturing the longing and the disappointment inherent in the attempt to make one’s self known to others.”—Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut

“Tense, elegant, sensuous.”—Niamh Campbell, author of We Were Young

“In The Anniversary Stephanie Bishop expertly and mercilessly builds an atmosphere of intense uncertainty and threat. You won’t want to put it down.”—Chris Power, author of Mothers

“The dread that slowly creeps into your bones while reading The Anniversary is difficult to shake off, yet you cannot look away. I reveled in every bit of this astute, compelling, psychological novel.”—Virginia Feito, author of Mrs March

“Such a stylish, incisive novel, tight with suspense and powerful insight. I loved it and will be recommending it far and wide.”—Megan Hunter, author of The Harpy

“Exquisite, profound, and utterly exhilarating: The Anniversary is a stunning achievement.”—Mark Brandi, author of Wimmera

“I absolutely loved The Anniversary, a literary thriller that is simultaneously addictive, compelling, and deeply clever.”—Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of Everyone is Still Alive

“Stephanie Bishop’s The Anniversary is literature at its very, very best — her talent shimmers off every single page, her prose is exquisite and her observations about the complexities and competitiveness of intimate relationships, the chaos of the human condition and the inexorable tension between love, family, creativity and art-making are second to none. This novel is an absolute triumph in every respect.”—Lucia Osborne-Crowley, author of My Body Keeps Your Secrets

Excerpt

Excerpted from The Anniversary © 2023 by Stephanie Bishop. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Black Cat, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.

That day on the boat we lay together a little longer in our cabin, then he rolled away and got up to shower. Afterwards he pulled on his swimming trunks. I wanted him to stay with me, but he seemed suddenly irritable, fidgety. I just need to cool off, he said, get some air. Are you coming? he asked. 

Maybe, I said. I’ll follow soon. He took a bathrobe, pushed his feet into the complimentary slippers then headed for the top deck where there was the pool and the casino. 

The sea was so still. Outside, I imagined the air to be soft and balmy. I thought I could stay on the ship forever, travel around and around the globe, become accustomed to no longer feeling the earth beneath my feet, and in this way turn leathery in the sun while feasting on pineapple and mango and melons. I did not follow Patrick immediately – I was sleepy from our exertions, and after showering I lay down to rest a while. I had a book and although I intended to read, I must have scarcely made it through a paragraph before I fell fast asleep. When I woke it was dark, and the ship was tilting this way and that. Our porthole was just above sea level, and as the ship heaved I saw first the sky, then just ocean – the porthole like a wounded eye that swings down over and over again into a basin of cloudy water. Then up again, to blink. Patrick wasn’t there. I pulled on my clothes and went above deck in search of him. 

We were sailing past the Kamchatka Peninsula and towards the Sea of Okhotsk. As I climbed the stairs, an announcement came through the speaker system. The crew asked that all passengers return to their cabins, as a storm was about to hit. There was no way to sail around it, the swell was already high and the water rough. But when I reached the Lido deck there was still a cluster of people out by the pool and plenty by the bar inside, so I too ordered something, thinking why not, thinking it might at least dull the nerves, as I looked about for Patrick. Behind me a fat man was laughing loudly, smacking his thigh with his hand. Maybe it was just precautionary, the warning. A formality for insurance reasons, or something like that; once the risk was stated, the responsibility would be ours alone. Then I spotted Patrick near the roulette table – he was gesticulating, making a bet it seemed. When I reached him he put a finger to his lips, his eyes fixed on the wheel as the ball went round and round then settled. He whooped with glee and swiftly placed another bet, pulling a wad of cash from the pocket of his bathrobe to exchange for more chips. He was drunk, he must have been up there on his own for hours while I slept, his hair damp from swimming. His chest and face were sunburnt from the morning. He leant on me as he eyed the circling ball. And then he lost. He was insistent that they keep playing, that he place another bet although he had no money and no line of credit to hand, and so became aggressive: loud, wild, roughly spoken. 

Then the storm hit. No one had predicted the size of the waves: ten metres, with winds up to eighty kilometres per hour. So they told me later. I had just picked up my drink when all of a sudden the furniture started sliding from one side of the room to the other, there was the sound of glass breaking, people screaming. Pot plants and tables crashed first into one wall, then the next. I held on to whatever I could: benches, a pillar in the centre of the room. Outside there was the flash of lightning. The ship tilted again, the furniture skidding and smashing. Then everything went very quiet, very still. I could hear a woman crying. I crawled towards Patrick, clinging to the broken furniture. People were starting to stand and brush themselves off. Patrick had been slammed back against the wall when the storm first struck and now, as I reached to help him, he pushed me away. He scrambled to his feet and started to head back to the bar. Then, all of a sudden, he collapsed into an armchair and closed his eyes. I had taken my anti-nausea pills but Patrick had not, and the storm, mixed with the alcohol, overwhelmed him; a moment later he pushed himself up to standing. I think I’m going to be sick, he said as he stumbled towards the deck. The door was unlocked, I saw him shove it open and step out into the darkness. I watched him for a moment, wondering if I should go to help, thinking he’d prefer to throw up on his own because he never liked anyone around when he was sick or feeble. I’d hurt myself when the storm first struck and felt a little stunned. Then the ship tilted again, more violently this time, and I heard him calling to me. J.B., he called, as he liked to call me, using not my real name but my middle initials under which I published. J.B. Come out, J.B.! His voice cut through the noise of the storm, as it has always been able to cut through anything. The sound of glasses shattering. The sight of the looming dark waves outside and then water crashing down over the railings. I followed him. 

As I reached the door I lost my balance, slipping on the wet floor. Outside, the night was cold and the ocean very loud. I found him bent over, one hand clinging to the railings. I reached out to touch his back, but he brushed my hand away. Only once before had I seen him vomit from drunkenness. Generally, I discouraged him from drinking more than a glass or two. While it made others relaxed and convivial, after a few drinks he would get cranky. Or maybe tetchy is the word. Sometimes mad. And so I’d often quietly draw his glass towards me and, while he was talking, finish it myself. 

Let me help you back inside, I said, again putting my hand on his back. Again he shrugged it off. He lifted his face towards me then and said something he perhaps would not have said were he not so drunk. Something he must have been storing up. Something he must have been trying not to say. Something he must have thought of frequently, but at intervals. Something terrible that I would later try to forget.