In trying to involve myself in the community component of the Australian Women Writers Challenge (not just the reading and reviewing) I’m doing a semi regular round-up of reviews and other discussion posts that have caught my eye.
Elizabeth Lhuede asked What’s All the Fuss about Geraldine Brooks’ CALEB’S CROSSING, and even though it was one of my favourite books of last year I didn’t take umbrage at Elizabeth’s critique of the book 🙂 (see I can be polite mum). Indeed the post posed some very interesting questions about what makes a book Australian and what things we should expect to see from our Australian writers and what books are deserving of awards for their Australian-ness. I’m still pondering my thoughts on some of these topics.
Jenny Schwartz reviewed NOTORIOUS AUSTRALIAN WOMEN by Kay Saunders and discovered why she prefers autobiographies to biographies. I found this fascinating because I prefer the reverse. I also note that Jenny is a steampunk author so I will pay close attention and maybe I will learn what the term actually means one day.
At The Australian Bookshelf Jayne Fordham bills SHARP TURN by Marianne Delacourt as Australia’s answer to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and is exciting, funny and slightly outrageous.
Meanwhile at Bookstore off Euclid Avenue we’re reminded of one of the classics of Australian fiction, Miles Franklin’s MY BRILLIANT CAREER, the semi-autobiographical tale of a woman whose full name was Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin. In the review the book’s heroine, Sybylla is described as “a cocky teenage girl, all slang and rebellion. She is stubborn, intelligent, and uncompromising”. Given that definition is spot-on I guess it’s not surprising that I can still remember my teachers’ grimaces when I listed Sybylla as my all-time favourite literary character in an essay-writing contest when I was 13 🙂 The review also reminds us of Franklin’s consummate skill at describing our unique physical environment.
The review of Alice Pung’s memoir UNPOLISHED GEM at a blog called Wallaby has inspired me to add the book to my own wishlist. It deals with Pung’s life as the child of immigrants, straddling the cultures, inheriting the memories of her ancestors.
Meanwhile at Tony’s Reading List I discovered a book called EVERYMAN’S RULES FOR SCIENTIFIC LIVING by Carrie Tiffany which I had never heard of but am now very keen to read. Set in rural Australia of the 1930’s Tony describes it as a book about two people who fall in love, decide to start a farm based on scientific principles but struggle through the Depression and the two cope with their failures differently. Tony says the book isn’t perfect but is compelling and for some reason I really like the sound of it.
It’s not all reviews though, why not check out Tara Moss in conversation with Kerry Greenwood? Two of Australia’s most successful contemporary women writers spend a bit over ten minutes discussing writing, female heroes, being shocked by your own characters and the adaptation of Kerry’s most famous creation, Phryne Fisher, for television.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of reviews and other posts that have been written in the first weeks of the Australian Women Writers challenge 2012; to date 164 reviews are linked at the challenge’s website. It’s not too late for you to join in, or if you can’t do that at least head on over to the challenge website and check out some of the review links. You’re bound to find a recommendation for some great writing by Australian women.