McPhee Gribble, $19.95 pb
It’s high time that bookstores set aside a section for novels that document the increasingly familiar territory of the inner lives of middle-class white Australian women who grew up in the 1960s.
Starting at Melbourne University in 1962 and ending in Sydney in 1992, Kristin Williamson’s Tanglewood traces the lives of three female friends: an energetic but childless investigative journalist, a teacher and mother whose husband leaves her after twenty years of marriage, and a successful, beautiful artist.
Williamson employs a quilt-like narrative structure, looping back and forth from time to time, place to place, character to character with ease and clarity. It’s page-turning stuff, at times intriguing but not particularly enlightening. The men get off less lightly than the women who have uniquely female experiences and draw strength from each other, grow and explore in all those ways we have come to expect.