Elizabeth Knox

Billie's Kiss

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Shortlisted for the 2002 Montana NZ Book Awards

‘New Zealander Knox, an energetic magical realist with a vibrant comic imagination, scores strongly again with this densely plotted tale of a waiflike shipwreck survivor’s bizarre life and loves.’
Kirkus Reviews (US)

With an Edwardian twist on The Tempest, and all the surprising, earthy and magical qualities of her bestseller The Vintner’s Luck, Knox’s equally irresistible new novel is set on the remote, divided Scottish island of Kissack and Skilling, one half of which looks historically and geographically towards Catholic Ireland, the other towards the Protestant north and Scandinavia.

In the spring of 1903 a ship explodes as it docks on the island, drowning many of the passengers and crew in the icy waters of Stolnsay harbour. Young, strawberry-blonde-haired Billie Paxton is among the only survivors. Clumsy, illiterate and suddenly alone, Billie will not say why, before the explosion, she jumped from ship to shore, and so falls under the immediate suspicion of her fellow passenger, Murdo Hesketh, and his cousin and employer, Lord Hallowhulme, who owns the island – and has controversial plans for improving the lives of its inhabitants.

Gloriously inventive and vividly atmospheric, Billie’s Kiss conjures up a way of life hurtling towards a brave new world, in an enchanting novel that combines a strange, sexy love story with an Edwardian mystery, bringing together murder and eugenics, progress, prejudice and the loss of innocence.

Praise for Billie's Kiss

. . .Billie's Kiss has pace and delivery, as well as the succulent and vivid writing Knox is known for.

Complete, satisfying, and original, with just enough refinement and restraint to enhance the quality and feed the imagination, Billie's Kiss is a dashing, delightful and absorbing read by a versatile, assured and surprising writer.
Lindsay Botham DOMINION

I read
Billie's Kiss twice, relishing the sheer skill, the lovely detail, language and atmosphere of a superbly told tale.

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