CategoryReviews of Australian Literature

Our Man Elsewhere: In Search of Alan Moorehead by Thornton McCamish

This unconventional ramble through the life of the author of two popular history books that I dearly loved (The White Nile and The Blue Nile) was a pleasant walk indeed. It was a few months before our trip to Australia that I read another of his books, Cooper’s Creek, about the ill-fated exploration of the interior of Australia. He was an ambitious journalist who left Australia as soon as...

The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes

I have had in mind to read this weighty book (600 pages) about the arrival of Europeans in Australia written by an art historian for a long time. Between the original landing of Captain Cook in Botany Bay in 1770 and the arrival of the first wave of transported convicts in 1788, no British ships came to the area. The Botany Bay area would not have supported them; if Captain Phillip hadn’t...

Mr. Hogarth’s Will by Catherine Helen Spence

Thanks to Lisa at ANZ LitLovers I have spent a happy week reading a book with the writing style of Jane Austen and the political sensibility of Ezra Klein. Remarkable, given that Catherine Helen Spence wrote the book in 1865. Financial difficulties caused her family emigrate to Australia from Scotland when she was 14; her father died a few years after their arrival and she had to support the...

A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay

This is my (and her) third novel and what a satisfying experience it was to listen to it.  It centers on a modest house in Brisbane and the two families that lived in it sequentially. First was Elsie, Clem, and their twins. After the twins were grown, had children of their own, and Clem had been dead for nearly 40 years, Elsie was moved into a facility a short walk away. The house was...

Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey

I do like books with multiple storylines and setting them in different centuries is appealing. A woman working in a London museum of clocks and other mechanisms learns her long-time lover died suddenly. Catherine must grieve secretly as he was married and had children. Her boss who knows the secret finds a project for her that will isolate her from colleagues as she recovers. The project comes...

The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton

I found this audiobook of essays written and read by Tim Winton so heartening that when I finished it, I listened to it again immediately. I have never done that before, either listening or reading a book, so what is different about this one? First he writes so beautifully, using such a literate vocabulary with the bonus of the vernacular of Australia, perhaps in particular, working class...

The Body in the Clouds by Ashley Hay

This 2010 book was the author's first; it was recently published in the US and reviewed in the New York Times, perhaps because of the acclaim her second novel (The Railwayman's Wife) has received. I want to rely on that review for capturing the wonder of this novel so beautifully while I record some tangential bits that I want to remember.  Three stories are set in...

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

SPOILER ALERT! I begin by saying I can keep no secrets in writing about this book. In the first 40% of the book you know something is up, but you don’t know quite what it is. I knew that much from what ANZ LitLovers wrote about it. But I must say I didn’t guess what it was. It begins with the story of a young man Jacky escaping from what we later learn is a farm owned by...

Careful, He Might Hear You by Sumner Locke Elliott

This went on my list of books to read some months ago, but it moved it when I noted how much Kim of Reading Matters enjoyed it recently. First published in 1963 this is the story of a boy whose mother died shortly after he was born, brought up by his aunts in Sydney during the Depression. He is known as P.S., so anointed by his mother when she knew she would not survive. in her view he would be...

Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane

Recently this 2011 book came to my notice by way of ANZ LitLovers LitBlog and having read Lisa's review as well as Sue's review at Whispering Gums, decided I would read it. July 2-9 is NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week and ANZ LitLovers is celebrating with Indigenous Literature Week. What good fortune this was for me:  this is a terrific read...

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