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Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Woman on the Mountain' by Sharyn Munro

November 2007, no. 296 01 November 2007
Sharyn Munro lives alone in a mudbrick house on a mountain near the Hunter River, many miles from the nearest shop or neighbour. In her late fifties, with arthritis slowly encroaching, she attempts to revegetate rainforest gullies, grows her own food and provides a refuge for wallabies, quolls and antechinus. Munro’s memoir, The Woman on the Mountain, sets out to explain this ‘foolhardy’ cho ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'In the Name of the Law' by Robert Foster

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
William Willshire was Officer in Charge of the Native Police in Central Australia from 1884 to 1891, when he was charged with the murder of two Aborigines. He was acquitted, but was regarded by his superiors from then on as something of a liability, ending his career in an uneventful posting in Cowell on the Yorke Peninsula. He wrote three books about his life as an outback hero, glorifying himsel ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Racers of the Deep' by Ralph P. Neale

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
In the years before steamships gained supremacy of the oceans, sailing ships became faster and were able, for two decades, to outrun the primitive new technology. This book concentrates on the clippers built in North America and used on the run from Liverpool to Melbourne during this period. Unlike previous works on the subject, Ralph P. Neale’s book is proudly ‘written from an Australian vie ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Translating Lives' edited by Mary Besemeres and Anna Wierzbicka

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 July 2007
Language shapes identity: everyone knows that, in theory. Anyone who has studied a foreign language knows that exact equivalents do not exist for every word. Translation cannot be perfect: something is always lost. So what happens when people, used to one linguistic identity, have to translate themselves into a new language? Mary Besemeres and Anna Wierzbicka have assembled twelve witnesses to giv ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Robert Louis Stevenson in the Pacific: Travel, empire and the author’s profession' by Roslyn Jolly

February 2010, no. 318 07 October 2022
In 1887 Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Kidnapped (1886) and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), left England for the sake of his declining health. By the end of 1889 he was living in Samoa. The British reading public adored Stevenson, and reactions in the press to his immersion in the complicated politics of his new home ranged from irritation to incomprehension. When the sequel to Kidnapped, Cat ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Child of the Twilight' by Carmel Bird

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
The mystique of the Roman Catholic Church has been thoroughly exploited by the likes of Dan Brown and writers of the medieval monastic murder mysteries that gained a certain popularity following the English publication of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose in 1983. Carmel Bird’s latest book contains a mystery, though not a murder. It is set mostly in 2001, but monks, convents, rosaries, black ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Terra Australis Incognita: The Spanish quest for the mysterious Great Southern Land' by Miriam Estensen

February 2007, no. 288 01 February 2007
Miriam Estensen is prodigious. It is only a year since I reviewed her Life of George Bass (2005) in ABR, and here is another well-researched historical volume, out in time to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of the Spanish expedition, which inter alia made the first European passage through the Torres Strait. ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Time’s Long Ruin' by Stephen Orr

April 2010, no. 320 01 April 2010
Lost children appear (or disappear) everywhere in literature and film: in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones (2002) and Clint Eastwood’s Changeling (2008). Wendy James’s new novel, Where Have You Been?, concerns a lost teenager, and Carmel Bird’s Child of the Twilight (which I reviewed in last month’s ABR) explores the mythic status of the lost child. However, Stephen Orr’s novel Time’s ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Matthew Flinders' Cat' by Bryce Courtenay

December 2002-January 2003, no. 247 01 December 2002
Halfway through Matthew Flinders’ Cat, the protagonist admits that, when writing, he finds it ‘almost impossible to leave out what others might think of as superfluous detail. It was, he knew, self-indulgence.’ Is this a moment of self-directed irony on Bryce Courtenay’s part, or a case of the pot calling the kettle black? This novel brims with ‘superfluous detail’, and there is little ... (read more)