Thomasin Sleigh


WOmen in the Field, One and Two

Women in the Field, One and Two explores two women’s creativity and freedom against the backdrop of art history's patriarchal biases.

A young British woman in post-war London is tasked with recommending acquisitions for New Zealand's National Art Gallery. When she ventures into the basement of a charismatic Russian painter three decades her senior, she discovers a solution that reconciles her idea of that far-away country and her own modernist sensibilities.

Thomasin talks about this novel on RNZ here, and was interviewed by Holly Walker for the Pantograph Punch here.

You can order a copy of Women in the Field, One and Two from Lawrence & Gibson's website, or buy a copy from your local bookseller (distributed in Aotearoa only).

Thanks to Creative New Zealand for their support of the production of this novel.

I just enjoyed it so much. I thought it was very cleverly written. It feels quite light, but when you start to plow under the surface you realised there’s a lot going on: ideas around colonialism, immigration, and paternalism in patriarchal societies.
— Stella Chrysostomou, Nine to Noon, RNZ
Vividly detailed with shifting settings, characters and conversations, the story reveals an era loaded with patriarchal and social constrictions alongside nuanced portraits of women, artists, Londoners and colonials...It’s thoroughly compelling, insightful and engaging...”
— Kathryn Webster, Art News New Zealand

Ad Lib is engaging and character-driven in a way that belies its handling of big ideas about our visual culture - among them, the conventions we demand of ‘reality’ on the screen and what the mean for the way we organise our lives (in a world where cameras really are omnipresent).
— Sam Finnemore , New Zealand Listener


Ad Lib is a book about reality TV, memory, grief, and the fluidity and power of images.

When celebrity singer Carmen Crane passes away, her only daughter inherits a reality TV show. As Kyla Crane adjusts to this new scrutiny, strange things start to happen: the house is rearranged over night, unknown characters appears, the show's narrative loses its way, and the camera crew begin to echo events. When fragments of her mother's past surface, Kyla is compelled to scroll through the footage and come to her own conclusions about life in the public eye and her ambiguous inheritance.

Ad Lib was selected as one of the Listener’s ‘Best Books of 2014’ and on the New Zealand Book Council’s ‘Best Reads of 2014’ end-of-year blog. Thomasin talks about the book with Lynn Freeman on RNZ here, and was interviewed by the NZ Book Council here.

You can purchase a copy of Ad Lib from Lawrence & Gibson's website here.