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Where the Line Breaks

Written by Michael Burrows


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The Unknown Digger is Australia’s most famous WWI poet. But for decades, his identity has remained a mystery. Enter Matthew Denton – a PhD student at University College, London – who believes the unknown digger to be in fact one of Australia’s greatest war heroes: Lieutenant Alan Lewis VC of the 10th Light Horse. As the story of Lieutenant Lewis, fighting his way across Sinai, Palestine, Jordan and Syria unfolds, the question of what makes him a poet, a lover and a hero becomes a troubled one. Meanwhile, in the footnotes, scholar Matt Denton is fighting his own battles with romance and with academia as he attempts to rewrite literary history.


'An ambitious and original novel – a literary puzzle, an engrossing war story and a captivating tale of love and obsession.' Ryan O'Neill, author of Their Brilliant Careers

'Many times I caught my breath at the sensory qualities of the prose.' Amanda Curtin

'This is historical fiction, a mystery, a love story, but what Burrows does by splitting the narrative with Matthew's thesis is effective, and a highlight of the novel. Kudos to him for attempting this difficult technique with his debut novel.' Good Reading

'Where the Line Breaks is a beautiful, ambitious novel, and while it takes a big risk stylistically, the disparate parts of the book are handled with great skill. The result is an instant classic, and a perfect read for those interested in World War One.' The AU Review

'… it’s emotive, powerful and gripping, the triple narrative offering different perspectives on such a well-documented period in history and an alternative view on the idealism of heroes, war and love.' Westerly

'Vividly rendered historical fiction, an intriguing literary mystery and a number of tangled romances … intelligent and emotionally engaging debut novel …' West Australian

'This novel is a thoughtful and lively take on the limitations of scholarship and on the unknowable nature of the past.' Sydney Morning Herald

'… as it unfolds, the war story, the thesis and the footnotes become a compelling interwoven story of heroes and anti-heroes.' Subiaco Post

'Michael Burrows’s Where the Line Breaks is an impressive debut that will have readers sifting through the stories that they hold dear in their own lives, interrogating them for gaps and distortions where something might have come loose, slipped away, vanished – or never existed at all.' Antithesis Journal 

'Each strand of the novel succeeds in its own way.' Australian Book Review


Fogarty Literary Award (Shortlisted 2019)

ISBN 9781925816341 (Paperback)
Formats C Format (234 x 153mm) (Paperback)
Categories Books for History Teachers
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Publisher Fremantle Press
Edition 1st
Publication Year 2021
Pages 224
  • Fogarty photo from 2019

    Michael Burrows

    Michael Burrows was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. As a middle child in the creative chaos of six children, all of whom grew up to have some kind of artisitc streak, he never stood a chance. After travelling to London to work at the 2012 Olympics and backpacking through Europe for a year, the great British weather persuaded him to settle in the UK. Michael completed his MA in 2017 at City, University of London, where he wrote the first draft of this novel. Where the Line Breaks is his first novel and was shortlisted for the 2019 Fogarty Literary Award. Read more