The day Nola Duncan married her husband in 1981 was the happiest day of her life. Michael was Nola's 'perfect man' – a good father; a wonderful host, cook and raconteur; a devoted husband and caring lover; a good friend and a committed Christian.
Throughout their thirty-year marriage, Michael, a deeply romantic man, wrote Nola copious love notes, letters and poems. So when he died suddenly of a cardiac arrest in 2010, her grief was profound. The funeral service overflowed with people who loved and admired him; the eulogies were effusive.
Heartbroken, Nola picked her way through early widowhood and on the first anniversary of his death she buried his ashes in a plot with room for hers. Then she set about clearing out his things.
In a box marked 'research papers' Nola found something that would shatter her life; 741 love letters between Michael and his lover, evidence of his passionate six-year affair with a young woman 23 years his junior.
Nola's emotional pain and distress as she read the letters, many of them erotic and sexually explicit, was compounded on discovering one of the most meaningful poems he'd written for her, he'd also given his lover. The lovers believed their affair was the 'Great Love' and their 'soul marriage' God-sanctioned.
Until now, Nola has remained silent about Michael's betrayal of everything and everyone they knew. There are many unanswered questions in this story: why did he keep the letters? Can a man love two women at once? But there's one she knows she will always be asked – how could she not have known? But hand on her heart, she didn't.
Nola Duncan was born in Perth in 1941.She attended Como Primary School and Girdlestone Girls High School and was a mediocre student. She married in 1961, had three children and embarked on a 20 year career as a housewife andmother. She moved to Canberra in 1976 and was divorced in 1981.
Nola remarried and lived happily for 29 years with her second husband until his death in 2010.
Nola still lives in Canberra, but does wonder why.
New Zealand-born Libby Harkness has lived and worked as a journalist, editor, and writer in Australia for more than 35 years. As a journalist, sub-editor and editor she has worked on a variety of professional and trade publications across a range of fields including travel, hospitality, retail, pharmacy, medical and pharmaceutical.
Libby's work as ghostwriter, biographer and editor has covered a variety of publishing projects.
Random House Australia
Authors: Nola Duncan and Libby Harkness