Jackie French: A Waltz for Matilda

Jackie French: A Waltz for Matilda

A Waltz for Matilda

by Jackie French

HarperCollins, $19.99 pb, 479 pp, 9780732290214

Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department

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Jackie French, a prolific author, is best known for her children’s books, with variations on historical themes clearly something of a specialty. A Waltz for Matilda, which seems to be aimed at a broader market, builds on the premise that the Jolly Swagman of Banjo Paterson’s song is not alone. His twelve-year-old daughter, Matilda, is with him and witnesses the whole upsetting scene. (When, years later, a friend points out that ‘they never mentioned you’ in the song, the proto-feminist Matilda replies, ‘No. The songs rarely mention the women.’)

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Published in February 2011 no. 328