The Art of Time Travel by Tom Griffiths – Book Review

Australian historian Tom Griffiths was hiking a pilgrimage route in rural France when he met three fellow walkers, all of them French - a salesman, a nurse and a counsellor. When they discovered Griffiths was a historian there was: ... a chorus of approval, even, dare I say it, a frisson of serious regard - something unexpected for scholars in Australia. And, as proud French citizens, they were ready with their next natural question: 'Who are your favourite French historians?' Griffiths replied; the French engaged and the heady conversation only [...]

2018-03-25T13:05:10+11:00November 14th, 2016|Book Review, Writing|17 Comments

Georgette Heyer and Genre

I'm afraid I've been bingeing on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Poldark.  Outlander. And the inimitable Georgette Heyer's regency romances. Women Rejecting Marriage Proposals in Western Art History what no i'm totally listening this is my listening guitar i'm playing my listening song Source: I could explain it away as research, of course. Trying to immerse myself in the subtleties of the period so as to better to convey the context in which Elizabeth Macarthur lived.  But lets not kid ourselves. I'm just swept away by the [...]

2018-03-25T13:07:00+11:00October 17th, 2016|Book Review, Writing|30 Comments

Book Reviews – where are all the women? Stella Count paints a depressing picture.

For five years the nice people at the Stella Prize have been counting who receives (and writes) book reviews in Australia. No prize, even a stellar one, for guessing who does: men. Reviews that were of books by women, tracked over the past five years. Source: Despite men writing only 28% of all Australian books published in 2015, books by men received well over half the published reviews.  Men's books were consistently the focus of longer reviews and male reviewers had more reviews published than did women [...]

2018-03-21T14:54:26+11:00August 1st, 2016|Book Review|0 Comments

Georgiana Molloy: the mind that shines by Bernice Barry – Book Review

Georgiana Molloy is every biographer's delight: an interesting woman who kept a diary.  And yet, as is typical for many women who deserve a more prominent role in Australian history, her story is not well known. In Glasgow in 1829 Georgiana Kennedy (aged twenty-four) married army officer Captain John Molloy (aged forty-nine).  Six weeks later the newlyweds set sail for Western Australia to begin a new life, and a new colony.  Conditions on the Swan River were predictably difficult and all the best land seemed to be already taken so [...]

2018-03-27T19:43:01+11:00June 3rd, 2016|Book Review|0 Comments

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire – Book Review

Australian writer Emily Maguire has turned the crime-thriller genre inside out in this compelling and insightful novel. It begins in the usual way: a beautiful, innocent young woman has been brutally raped and murdered in a small town just off the Hume Highway.  But rather than the standard police procedural we might expect, Maguire tells the story largely from the point of view of the victim's bereft older sister, Chris Rogers. Chris is the quintessential small town barmaid - big boobs, a smart mouth and a drinking problem.  Sometimes she [...]

2018-03-27T19:42:07+11:00April 28th, 2016|Book Review|0 Comments

Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske – Book Review

Q: When is a biography not a biography?  A: When it is an exquisite memoir about researching and writing a biography. Englishman John Craske was a fisherman who became a fishmonger who became an invalid.  He was born in 1881 and in 1917, when he had just turned thirty-six, he fell seriously ill.  For the rest of his life he kept moving in and out of what was described as a stuporous state. This state could be so extreme that he was hardly aware of his own existence for months [...]

2018-03-27T19:49:18+11:00March 31st, 2016|Book Review|0 Comments

Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling by Larissa Behrendt – Book Review

Eliza Fraser's story is one hell of a tale.  No doubt you've heard it before: young woman shipwrecked off the Queensland coast in the 1836, long days at sea in an open boat, cast ashore on a large island inhabited by Aboriginal savages, husband killed and Eliza rescued from 'a fate worse than death' just in the nick of time. Perhaps you came across Eliza's story in Patrick White's A Fringe of Leaves.  Maybe you've seen Tim Burstall's 1976 film Eliza Fraser (with Noel Ferrier as the husband and Abigail [...]

2018-03-27T20:27:04+11:00February 27th, 2016|Book Review, Colonial History|0 Comments

My History by Antonia Fraser – Book Review

Privilege is relative, isn't it.  As long as there is someone wealthier, smarter or better-off than you, then it's hard to consider yourself privileged.  Even when you most certainly are. English biographer Antonia Fraser DBE is something of a paragon.  Her biographies are best sellers (Mary Queen of Scots) that get made into movies by the hollywood elite (Marie Antoinette).  The several I have read are engaging, impeccably researched and - on occasion and appropriately - laugh out loud funny (Warrior Queens). In her 'Memoir of Growing Up' Fraser, now [...]

2018-03-27T20:55:14+11:00January 25th, 2016|Book Review|0 Comments

Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker – Book Review

Many consider aeroplane travel to be the necessary evil that gets us from here to there.  This is even more true for Australians, who usually have so very far to fly before they arrive at another place.  But for Mark Vanhoenacker, the flight is the best part.  Flying is his joy and, as it happens, his job. Luckily for us, he writes about flying with a skill that matches his obvious passion. Skyfaring is one of those rare books that takes a topic in which a reader may have little [...]

2018-03-27T21:06:48+11:00January 1st, 2016|Book Review|0 Comments

Best reads of 2015

Not the best reads, mind you.  Simply my best reads for 2015.  Which may or may not include books published before 2015.  My blog, my rules!  It's great to be a despot.... Now to set the scene, you'll have to imagine the red carpet, the glorious frocks and the tedious speeches... The nominees for my favourite non-fiction read of 2015: H is for Hawk - Helen Macdonald (Remarkable, compelling, lyrical, insightful) The Invisible History of the Human Race - Christine Kenneally (Brilliant) Six Square Metres - Margaret Simon (Excellent) Wild [...]

2018-03-27T21:36:35+11:00December 21st, 2015|Book Review, Life|0 Comments
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