A review in The Weekend Australian Saturday 30 July

Where The Sky’s No Limit

Claire Corbett’s debut novel takes the reader on an exhilarating ride. When We Have Wings is a fantastical vision grounded in reality but straining to break free of earthbound constraints….


Corbett’s prose has the clarity, luminosity and beauty of a well-cut diamond, especially when she describes dreamlike aerial visions. When We Have Wings is a confident and challenging debut; this flight of fancy deserves to soar. – Thuy On.


Interview with the Herald-Sun

A well-written piece, I think, which teases out quite a few different issues:

‘Corbett’s novel comes at a time when the teen market is saturated with paranormal romances about fallen angels. The cover of her book could give the impression it’s of a similar ilk. But When We Have Wings is more akin to the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood and Audrey Niffenegger, dealing as it does with adult issues of social engineering, mothering and sacrifice.

“There is no magic in my book. I don’t ask the reader to believe anything that I haven’t researched. There’s nothing that breaks the laws of physics,” Corbett says.

“It is not about flight that is easy and romantic; these people almost need to have the discipline of an Olympic athlete to do it. This is about struggle, achievement and transformation.”

On the book’s cover is an endorsement from filmmaker Jane Campion. Corbett explains that in her second year at UTS she worked as an assistant editor on Campion’s first movie Sweetie. “One of the things that is incredible about Jane is she is interested in other people’s creativity and she really encouraged me,” she says.

Corbett also worked on Campion’s Oscar-award winning The Piano, but then lost contact with the director for 20 years. “I was so excited when I’d finished this book and I thought, ‘She’s always believed in me as a writer, I’ve now got something to show her’,” Corbett says.

“I just wanted her to read it. Instead, she rang up and said, ‘My God, you’ve done it, I love it’.’

The Book Launch Banquet

Some of us had dinner together after the launch. The Carrington Hotel was full of guests for Yulefest and we had a Yulefest banquet in the Library, a lovely room with a crackling fire.

The launch and the dinner went smoothly and perfectly, thanks to the staff of the Carrington, and we had many comments on how good the food was.

We were so beautifully looked after in this glorious hotel. Thanks Michael and Candie and Darryl and our lovely waitstaff that night – you made the night stress-free and happy.

When We Have Wings Book Launch

The book launch was a fabulous night. We held it in the grand Victorian ballroom, painted in luscious eau-de-nil and gold, of the Carrington Hotel and the co-owner of the hotel, who has a beautiful voice, even sang Volare for us!


So many people came and had a great time and enjoyed the swing jazz (provided by some of our oldest and dearest friends, Paul Bennett and his son Scott, bass player Richard Lancaster and wonderful singer Jo Kenderes) and the bubbly and rich chocolate cake. Our local independent bookseller was there and said it was one of the best he’s ever been to. It was lovely to have my publisher, Annette Barlow, of Allen & Unwin, there and there was the most amusing MC (my husband Julian). Amanda Lohrey launched the book with one of the best speeches – so complex, erudite and intelligent – I’ve ever heard. 

It’s great when reality surpasses your hopes and dreams. Thank you everyone for making it such a special night.

Sunday Star Times (NZ) 10 July

There’s magic in the descriptions of visionary architecture and idealistic modified environments, as well as in the imagined realisation of the ancient human aspiration for flight. There’s realism too, however, and not a little humour, in the humans’ tendency to fail spectacularly (like Icarus) – or at least to fall short. I found the descriptions of urban slums and city-edge wastelands a disturbing commentary on present trends.

…a pretty impressive first novel…Underneath it all, there’s an exciting, sometimes romantic, and often scary story.

– Helen Watson White, Sunday Star Times 10 July 2011

The Townsville Bulletin 9th July

It’s a fascinating read which will keep you guessing all the way…and, maybe, even wishing for some wings of your own. In a word: Unputdownable. – Mary Vernon, The Townsville Bulletin, 9th July 2011

Review at Karen Brooks’ Blog

This would have to be one of the most original and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. Exquisitely written and populated by characters about whom you care, the novel is a wonderful melange of genres. Encompassing science-fiction, crime and fantasy it is also a considered tale that deals with fascinating and all too real philosophical issues including the timeless one of just what it means to be human. Adding a delicate frisson to this is the role of science and surgery and just how far humans are prepared to go in order to reach for and extend the aesthetic, physical and psychological limitations of their body and the potential and actual consequences of this. Dilemmas we already face as plastic and cosmetic surgery and other bodily modifications as well as our obsession with aging dominate headlines and already create  very real class and economic divisions….

…Told as parallel narratives, Peri and Zeke’s stories offers amazing and beautifully told insights into a divided future where getting what you wish for can be a poisoned, if seductive, chalice. Ethics, morals, right, wrong, religion, politics, parenting, nurture, nature, biological recklessness, exploitation and responsibility are all explored in intelligent and evocative prose. Descriptions of flight are irresistible as is the power of nature, conjured by Corbett in what I can only describe as breath-taking word storms.

This is a sublime book that will appeal to such a broad readership. An absolutely fabulous read that I simultaneously found hard to put down but also didn’t want to end.

Read the full review here.

Book of the Month at Love That Book

Our book of the month for July is ‘When We Have Wings’ by Claire Corbett.

‘When We Have Wings’ is the amazing debut novel from NSW author Claire Corbett.

Benette says, ‘This books really does offer something different. It’s set in the future, when some people can fly and some can’t. The star of the story is Peri, a young woman flier in charge of the care of baby Hugo, who comes to realise there is serious threat to them both. I tore through this book in a matter of days and am so pleased to list it as our book of the month.’

Australian Book Review

The flying sequences featured throughout When We Have Wings have a vivid, dreamlike intensity. Corbett’s characters are well developed, and she engages with a range of important social issues. These issues include genetic modification, motherhood, and class stratification….

Corbett skilfully depicts a bleak future in which advanced technology only exacerbates social inequalities. The plight of her characters (particularly Peri) is gripping and often moving. – from the review by Jay Daniel Thompson, ABR