Alice Nelson

Random House Australia
2 August 2022


Alice Nelson

‘Sometimes, Max, I imagine that I see you in her. Not in the sense of any physical inheritance, but a fleeting essence. Something wary and remote. Haunted, you might say. Though her ghosts are not yours.‘

Set between India and England, Faithless is the story of Cressida, a writer and translator, and her consuming love for Max, an enigmatic older writer - and married man.

Cressida’s passion for Max engulfs her from the first giddy rush of sensation when she is eighteen and meets him in the mountains of southern India. It is a desire so potent it delivers great stunning blows to her heart. And yet she can share it with almost no one. 

Then Cressida meets Leo, and she is forced to choose: between a life of passion or a desire for some peace of mind; between her romantic idealism and the possibility of a steadier, attainable happiness. 

As the years unfold with both these men, a fragile young child, Flora, also finds her way into Cressida’s life and heart, and it is Flora who forces Cressida to confront her own capacity for love and deception, and to accept the compromises life forces on us; the lies we tell in service of those things we cannot live without. 

Faithless is a passionate love story and a profound reflection on the nuances of attachment, the nature of desire, the different connections and relationships that sustain us, and the ways that we deceive ourselves and others in the hope that, finally, we can reach stumblingly towards one another.


You know that feeling you have when you read a line from a book and you instantly know that you will love this book forever? Like the author has somehow peered into yoursoul and immortalised every hidden thought and emotion on the page before you? That is how I felt as I was reading Faithless, underlining sentences and bookmarking pages I never wanted to forget.

Set between England and India, Faithless follows Cressida, an aspiring writer who falls heedlessly and irrevocably in love with Max, an older married man. As the years roll by, she becomes potently addicted, devouring every second she is with him, yet withering inside when he is not there.

Like her namesake, who in the story of Troy accepts the marriage proposal of a Greek officer despite being madly in love with the Trojan prince Troilus, Cressida is torn between her love for Max and a kind, honourable man she meets named Leo. She questions which path she should choose: a life of infatuation or of steady, reliable ease. Alice Nelson explores the battle between following your head versus your heart, weaving a tragic love story of one soul attaching itself to another and never letting go. Like rooks and wolves, some humans mate for life. It is all-consuming, passionate and lustful, but most importantly, life- sustaining. Yet there is grief in loving someone you can never claim, and grief for oneself too when you realise that once your heart is gone, there is no getting it back.

It is maddening how deeply I’ve fallen for this story. Faithless unveils how love exposes who we are most faithful to in life, who we are most faithless to, and the deceptions we spin to keep our faith from falling apart.

Aurelia Orr is from Readings Kids

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