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  • 9781910709139
Edition details


eBook ISBN

Publication date
6th June 2016


Aardvark Bureau


Extent (number of pages)



WEL excluding New Zealand

BIC category

US publication date
12th July 2016



Max Gate


The story of Thomas Hardy’s death told by his housemaid Nellie.

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The story of Thomas Hardy’s death told by his housemaid Nellie.

1928. As Thomas Hardy lies on his death bed at his Dorset home, Max Gate, a tug-of-war is taking place over his legacy … and the eventual fate of his mortal remains. What counts for more: the wishes of his family and dutiful second wife, Florence? the opinion of his literary friends? Hardy’s own express desires? or ‘the will of the nation’?

Narrated with wit and brutal honesty by housemaid Nellie Titterington, Max Gate is both an entertaining insight into the eccentricities of a writer’s life, and a raw, intriguing tale of torn loyalty, ownership and jealousy.

Fiction finalist – 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards
‘A surprising novel [which] plays with the boundary of fact and fiction’ Daily Mail
‘Moments of dark comedy vie with beautiful prose. The dialogue is a particular joy.’ The Times
‘An emotional, enjoyable and clever look into the consequences of having lived the life of an enigma.’ Frank Book Reviews
‘An interesting dip into the past.’ Jera’s Jamboree
‘Lyrical … beautifully crafted … As Hardy is lauded as one of the finest English writers, Wilkins is one of New Zealand’s great wordsmiths’ New Zealand Herald
Max Gate is an absorbing read and a must for anyone who has visited Max Gate and thought about what it was like in Hardy’s day.’  Bridport News
‘A worthy read.’ Bailieborough Library Reading Group
‘Lyrical and evocative.’ Words and Peace
‘I would recommend this book to people who have read one or two Hardy novels and are keen to learn more about him.’ The Book Bag
‘Wilkins is brilliant at character … the writing is full of verve. Wilkins has an eye for telling detail, a great ear for dialogue and a dark sense of humour.’ The Guardian
‘Wilkins’s characters are individual, unpredictable and real’ Independent on Sunday
‘Wilkins can command a breathtakingly supple literary style’ New York Times
‘An antipodean A. M. Homes’ The Guardian
‘Max Gate is superbly attuned to that tremulous moment just before everything changes forever – the Hardy household, the known world of domestic servitude and dutiful women. Damien Wilkins, who writes fabulous prose, is a wise and imaginative guide to this fascinating terrain. He has created that wondrous thing, a novel that surprises and delights at every turn.’ Michelle de Kretser
Bonus Material
Reading Group Questions
Visit Max Gate in Dorset, England
Damien Wilkins

Meet the author

Damien Wilkins is one of New Zealand’s leading writers. He is the author of short stories, poetry and seven novels, including the New Zealand Book Award-winning The Miserables and The Fainter, which was shortlisted for both the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He l…

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