For Life: A memoir of living and dying – and flying by Ailsa Piper Signed Copies available


An unforgettable and moving insight into loss, hope and starting again, aided by the incredible healing power of nature and a community of unexpected angels-for fans of Phosphoresence by Julia Baird.

After I swim, I watch an osprey hanging in mid-air. If those who came before really do dissolve and dissipate, and if their cells really are all around us, then that bird is held there by Mum and Peter and billions of others of the long-dead. The osprey is kept aloft by absences. Perhaps I am too.

When her husband doesn’t answer his phone, Ailsa Piper knows something is wrong. She calls their neighbour, and minutes later, he rings back. ‘Oh, Ailsa. I’m so sorry,’ he says. Five words to change a life.Wanting to flee her shattered world in Melbourne, Ailsa migrates north to Sydney. She makes a nest. She learns to swim. She walks the harbour cliffs to the lighthouse, meeting the locals: winter swimmers and shoreline philosophers.But we never leave our past behind. Ailsa is drawn back south, and even further back, to the west’s aqua waters …

‘As strong and as light as a bird, For Life is a loving, courageous account of the black mess of grief and the slow return to a flourishing life. Perhaps it’s only by staring death in the face that one can wholeheartedly celebrate the profound, joyful luck of being alive, and this book does both. Unflinching and tender, it shows us how to grieve. And it enacts the deep, human need to properly lay the dead to rest. You will cry reading this book, but you will also look up and see the world afresh, newly aware of the pulsing beat of your heart, grateful for the sun in your eyes.’ Charlotte Wood, author of Stone Yard Devotional

A beautiful, courageous and unflinching testament to life. To love shadowed by loss. To the howl of impermanence salved by beauty and the interconnectedness of all things. A book of hope and humanity.’ Sarah Winman, author of Still Life