Joan Makes History
University of Queensland Press, 285 pp, $29.95 hb
Soul-searching about our past is the new literary fashion. It is the period in which the breast-beaters, the moral Pharisees, are driven to tell us how, unlike their predecessors, they have political and moral virtue. The Aborigines, women and ordinary people have become the ‘goodies’, and all those who ignored them in their books or their teaching have become the ‘baddies’. The winds of change are blowing over the ancient continent.
Some are still shouting into the wind. Some are keen to let us see they know the direction in which the wind is now blowing. Kate Grenville is not one of those writers who changes her mind as abruptly as the wind swings round during a blowsy Melbourne summer. She is a writer who knows about those things which belong to eternity, the things which are not affected by a change in the direction of the wind.