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ABR Arts

Book of the Week


Thunderhead by Miranda Darling

A feminist triumph and homage to Virginia Woolf, Miranda Darling’s Thunderhead is a potent exploration of suburban entrapment for women. The novella opens with a complex satire of Ian McEwan’s response to Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925) in his novel Saturday (2005). All three books are set over the course of a single day, where the intricacies of both the quotidian and extraordinary occur. In this novella’s opening paragraphs, Darling’s protagonist, Winona Dalloway, wakes to see the sky ablaze through her window. While ‘it is dawn in the suburbs of the east’ – rather than a burning plane, evoking 9/11 terrorism, as in McEwan’s novel – she believes it ‘telegraphs a warning, red sky in the morning’. This refers to the opening of Mrs Dalloway, where Clarissa Dalloway feels, ‘standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen’.




From the Archive

July–August 2012, no. 343

The Lost Woman by Sydney Smith

In 1978 Christina Crawford published her memoir Mommie Dearest, an account of her life as the abused adoptive child of Joan Crawford. Shocking scenes in this book remain forever with readers. Sydney Smith’s account of life with her mother is, if anything, more horrific than Mommie Dearest. Traditional fairy tales often split the mother into the good mother and the bad mother, and the one in The Lost Woman is a baroque version of the bad. The memoir begins by invoking the story of Rapunzel and continues throughout the narrative to identify life’s key elements with the tropes of the folk tale. This is a story of imprisonment, escape, and transformation.

From the Archive

November 2006, no. 286

Nice people like you

Love, family, hope, death and grief have always been among fiction’s chief concerns. The Gospel According to Luke and Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls, both second books from their authors, share many of these themes. The Gospel According to Luke adds faith, belief, religion and prayer; and Emily Maguire adroitly pulls off what would, in lesser hands, be a farce.

From the Archive

May 2009, no. 311

Advances - May 2009

Jacqueline Kent chooses the most interesting biographical subjects. Her first was Beatrice Davis, doyenne of Australian book editors. A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis, A Literary Life won the National Biography Award in 2002. Next came An Exacting Heart: The Story of Hephzibah Menuhin (2008). Now we read with interest that she is writing the biography of Julia Gillard, the deputy prime minister.