Sally Young

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Writing)


School of Communications and Arts


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Dr Ffion Murphy


This thesis consists of a creative component, the first half of a novel, ‘Irresistible Grace’, and an exegesis, ‘Looking back: On writing, travel and the gaze.’ The novel begins in Manchester and centres on Caitlin, an Australian woman in her late twenties, who learns of her partner Pedro’s affair. The revelation stirs a resurgence of grief for her mother, Grace, who died when Caitlin was a child. In a bid to learn more about her mother, Caitlin embarks on a journey to India, where Grace spent the first half of her childhood as an expatriate. In India, Caitlin begins volunteering in a local slum. With the help of a friend, she eventually finds the site of her mother’s home, and in doing so makes the same discovery that her mother made in her voyage there before she died, learning the truth about her roots. Caitlin’s experience in Manchester and voyage to India are interwoven with memories of her childhood and of her father, Dave, her mother, Grace, and her sister, Maggie. It is through these memories that Grace’s own story is told – that of a grieving mother at odds with the world around her who is struggling to make sense of life after the death of her baby. Caitlin’s voyage concludes in the place of her own childhood, Western Australia, where she makes a decision to reunite with Pedro.

In the exegesis I explore the journey that I have undertaken in writing this novel, the challenges I faced in doing so, and how these challenges have become entwined with the themes of the story. I explore the themes of abandonment, isolation and forgiveness. I also discuss the unique exchange between traveller and host that occurs through the act of gaze. I draw on the works of Foucault, Maoz, Jordan and Aitchison and Hottola as well as novels by Turner Hospital, de Kretser and Baranay to examine the ways in which traveller and host make sense of the ‘other’ through this interaction and how they can both misinterpret and come to a mutual understanding through the act of gaze.

Access Note

Access to this thesis is restricted to the exegesis.