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England, September 1934: Two young lovers, Catherine and Daniel, have trespassed into the rose garden of Burnt Norton, an abandoned house in the English countryside. Hearing the sound of footsteps, they hide, and then witness the poet T.S. ('Tom') Eliot and his close friend Emily enter the garden and bury a mysterious tin in the earth. Tom and Emily knew each other in America in their youth; now in their forties, they have come together again. But Tom is married, and his wife has no intention of letting him go. What is it that binds Tom and Emily together? What happens when the muse steps out of the shadows? In the enclosed world of an English village one autumn, their story becomes entwined with that of Catherine and Daniel, who are certain in their newfound love and full of possibility. From one of Australia's finest writers, this is a moving, lyrical novel about poetry and inspiration, the incandescence of first love and the yearning for a life that may never be lived.
Steven Carroll's novels The Art of the Engine Driver and The Gift of Speed were both shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. In 2008, The Time We Have Taken won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, South-East Asia and South Pacific region, as well as the 2008 Miles Franklin Award.