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Christina Hill

Christina Hill is a Melbourne-based writer.

Christina Hill reviews ‘Kilroy Was Here’ by Kris Olsson and ‘Desperate Hearts’ by Katherine Summers

June–July 2005, no. 272 01 June 2005
Katherine Summers’ memoir of her childhood and Kris Olsson’s biography of Debbie Kilroy have in common histories of violence and abuse against women and children. Summers writes of her early childhood of desperate poverty in London’s East End in the 1960s and of her subsequent time in private boarding schools in a way that emphasises the powerlessness of the child in an inscrutable adult wor ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews ‘Beyond The Legend: A Kimberley Story’ by Noni Durack and ‘Out Of The Silence: A Story of love, betrayal, politics and murder’ by Wendy James

November 2005, no. 276 01 November 2005
These two first novels are based upon events and people from Australian history. Noni Durack recasts the story of the pastoralists of the north-west of Australia in terms of an enlightened awareness of land degradation, but the narrative remains oddly captive to the legend of heroic conquest that she is trying to critique. Wendy James, on the other hand, has written an elegant feminist account of ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews ‘Frank Hardy: Politics, literature, life’ by Jenny Hocking

February 2006, no. 278 01 February 2006
In reading a biography of Frank Hardy, it is almost impossible to separate the man, as subject, from the work for which he is famous, the novel Power Without Glory (1950) based on the life of John Wren. If I did not want to reach for my gun every time I hear the word ‘icon’ these days, I would say that this novel still has iconic status in Australian culture. The title is a pithy reworking of ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews ‘Sing Me That Lovely Song Again …’ by Helga Griffin

August 2006, no. 283 01 August 2006
Helga Griffin (née Girschik), conscious that memories differ and that her own is not infallible, is careful to respect the other people implicated in her story. Aware of her responsibility to them, she is nonetheless committed to breaking what she calls the Schweigen, the long silence. Sing Me That Lovely Song Again is highly apposite in its account of the damaging experience of internment. Durin ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'Luca Antara: Passages in search of Australia' by Martin Edmond

December 2006–January 2007, no. 287 01 December 2006
This novel by New Zealand-born Martin Edmond is difficult to pin down. As I read it, I wondered which genre it belongs to. The narrative moves among various genres, blurring memoir, travelogue, conventional history, reflections upon the internal journeys offered by personal reading, anthropological record, meta-textual fiction as postmodern mystery, even hoax. The unnamed narrator is a professiona ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'The Household Guide to Dying' by Debra Adelaide

July–August 2008, no. 303 01 July 2008
Why are there so many books about death and dying appearing at the moment? Is it about the baby boomers facing up to their mortality? It is certainly a subject that interests me, and Debra Adelaide’s novel should be compelling. Unfortunately, I found its determined flippancy laboured and grating. The first-person narrator, Delia, a writer of household guides, is not yet forty. Given a bad progno ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'Life in Seven Mistakes' by Susan Johnson

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
The Barton family of Susan Johnson’s Life in Seven Mistakes is ‘unhappy after its own fashion’, to quote Tolstoy’s famous dictum. Elizabeth Barton’s perspective dominates the narrative. A 49-year-old ceramicist who lives in Melbourne and is preparing for her first exhibition in New York, Elizabeth is under pressure to complete some pieces needed for her opening. With her third husband, N ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'Still Waters' by Camilla Noli

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
Camilla Noli’s novel about a cold, narcissistic personality is not pleasant reading. It is, of course, a tall order to write about a woman whose will to power is so all-consuming that she is prepared to kill her children to reassert her need for control. Narrated in the first person, it is quickly apparent that the speaker is hardly sane. Her anger exacerbated by her need for sleep, she burns wi ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'The Steele Diaries' by Wendy James

June 2008, no. 302 01 June 2008
This is a novel about a mother, daughter, and granddaughter. Two of these women are artists, and the third is a medical practitioner. Wendy James explores creativity and the price it exacts, especially if the artist is a woman. James is also interested in biography, its limitations and potentially destructive effects. The title, The Steele Diaries, refers to the journals of a celebrated book-illus ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews ‘The Con’ by Jesse Pentecost

March 2008, no. 299 01 March 2009
The title of Jesse Pentecost’s first novel refers not to a confidence trick but to a Conservatorium of Music. Primarily, Pentecost seems to want to talk about classical music, to offer considered criticism, to impart his knowledge of its history and practice, and to suggest the difficulties of a professional career in music. He is also keen to explore the post-Enlightenment idea of the ‘genius ... (read more)
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