The whole of inland Australia is manoeuvred, manipulated by the weather and by seasons, especially if you are in primary industry. I always like the story, I was travelling north once on the plane and the person next to me said that they hadn’t had rain for seven years. They were living out around Mt Isa and the first time it fell, his five-year-old ran in screaming with fright. But that’s probably one of those north Queensland stories.... (read more)
It’s Raining in Mango: Pictures from the Family Album was first published in 1987, on the eve of the bicentenary of white settlement in Australia, when many versions of the story of Australia were advanced and debated. Thea Astley’s book presents a family, the Laffeys, as a microcosm of the national story. It is a novel made up of stories told by Connie ...
Thea Astley (25 August 1925–17 August 2004) was an Australian novelist and short story writer. Her first novel, Girl with a Monkey, was published in 1958. She was a prolific and multi-award-winning writer who published fifteen novels and two short story collections and won the Miles Franklin award four times (for The Well Dressed Explorer in 1962, fo ...
Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark by Susan Sheridan
One of the principal characters in much of Thea Astley’s writing is Queensland. ‘An intransigent fecundity dominated two shacks which were cringing beneath banana clumps, passion-vines, granadillas.’ There’s a lot of sad poetry about the place; and the distances that separate us, I mean the physical distances, are like verse-breaks in a ballad; and once, once we believed the ballad might never end but go on accumulating its chapters of epic while the refrain, the almost unwordable quality that mortises us together, retained its singular soul. How express the tears of search?... (read more)
Thea Astley’s first novel, Girl with A Monkey (1958), signalled the arrival of a writer with a distinctive style. Astley believes that Angus and Robertson accepted the book, although it would not be a money-spinner like the work of their bestsellers, Frank Clune and Ion Idriess, because their editor Beatrice Davis took the initiative in encouraging ‘a different form of writing from the Bulletin school’. The plain Bulletin style, a consciously shaped style representing ‘natural’ narrative, was still the norm in Australian writing in the 1950s, although that decade also saw the publication of stylistically evocative novels like Patrick White’s The Tree of Man and Voss, Hal Porter’s A Handful of Pennies, Martin Boyd’s The Cardboard Crown, A Difficult Young Man, and Outbreak of Love, and Randolph Stow’s The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, A Haunted Land, The Bystander, and To the Islands.... (read more)