Shortlisted for the 2023 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction
Longlisted for the 2023 Margaret and Colin Roderick Literary Award
From the best-selling author of The Tall Man and The Arsonist, a personal tale about death, life and the enchantment of stories. With illustrations by Anna Walker.
Let me tell you a story…
When Chloe Hooper’s partner is diagnosed with a rare and aggressive illness, she has to find a way to tell their two young sons. By instinct, she turns to the bookshelf. Can the news be broken as a bedtime tale? Is there a perfect book to prepare children for loss?
Hooper embarks on a quest to find what practical lessons children’s literature—with its innocent orphans and evil adults, magic, monsters and anthropomorphic animals—can teach about grief and resilience in real life. From the Brothers Grimm to Frances Hodgson Burnett and Tolkien and Dahl—all of whom suffered childhood bereavements—she follows the breadcrumbs of the world’s favourite authors, searching for the deep wisdom in their books and lives.
Both memoir and manual, Bedtime Story is stunningly illustrated by the New York Times award-winning Anna Walker. In an age of worldwide uncertainty, here is a profound and moving exploration of the dark and light of storytelling.
Praise for Bedtime Story
'Everything you’d ever want in a bedtime story – heroes and heroines, puzzles and dangers, invisible forces, birds, trees, beasts, poetry, sadness and joy. Stories within stories. I was spellbound from the start. As for the ending... I can’t tell you that.' Paul Kelly OA
‘Chloe Hooper has a formidable talent to take complex stories and ideas and truths, and to distil them into a language of direct and powerful beauty. This is a story of grief and of patience, of hope and acceptance. It is also a reminder of the solace that books give us, and of how the imaginary worlds we dive into as children remain with is for all our lives, of how they guide us into adulthood and maturity. There is a quiet courage and strength in this book. It is both gentle and uncompromising, a love letter to family and to literature that is bracingly unsentimental. I was profoundly moved, and profoundly grateful.’ Christos Tsiolkas
‘This book is a miracle of light and meaning-making from one of our finest writers. Venturing inward with extraordinary grace, Hooper explores – and extends – the long literary line surging with our deepest inherited wisdom about how to embrace our finite lives. The result is nothing less than the hero's journey we have been collectively starving for. Telling you this is like trying to describe the sun; it is a book so powerful and beautiful – so utterly its own – that it can only be experienced directly.’ Sarah Krasnostein
‘Exquisitely beautiful. This book is an act of love.’ Anna Funder
'Deeply engrossing and honest, human, full of love and tenderness, with moments of sparkling humour in the struggle. I loved everything about Bedtime Story. I loved particularly what it taught me about authors who write for children, the ways that writing and reading provides compensation, balancing the scales between loss and love.’ Sofie Laguna
‘I loved Bedtime Story by Chloe Hooper so much! A sensitive & beautifully executed exploration of the power & purposes of storytelling.' Kate Forsyth
'Chloe Hooper is a beautiful writer... Her latest book is incredibly personal, yet she still weaves an outward curiosity that drives all of her non fiction; a compulsion to figure out the why, how, and if, of life.' Zan Rowe