Carol Middleton

Graeme Leith’s intention in writing this memoir was to pass on his knowledge and experience as chief winemaker of Passing Clouds winery in Victoria. Along the way, he discovered there was a lot more to say about his seventy-three years of life as an adventurer, larrikin, and family man. The result is almost an autobiography, complete with photographs, traci ...

Apart from a brief stint as an actor, Hannie Rayson has spent her professional life writing plays, fourteen of them. Now she has shone the spotlight on her own life and brought her sense of dramatic conflict, emotional range and laugh-out-loud humour to her memoir, Hello, Beautiful!

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The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

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March 2015, no. 369

This début novel by poet and author Robyn Cadwallader has its genesis in her PhD thesis on attitudes to virginity in the Middle Ages. Set in England in 1255, it is the story of Sarah, an anchoress or religious recluse, who chooses to be shut into a stone cell, measuring seven by nine paces, for life. She is seventeen.

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Pennsylvania Avenue is billed by the Melbourne Theatre Company as a world première, with the expectation that singer Bernadette Robinson’s new one-woman show will travel the world, like her previous one, Songs for Nobodies (MTC, 2010). In that show, Robinson inhabited several ‘nobodies’ and the famous singers they encounter. When, in November 2012, I interviewed Robinson in the run-up to the final Melbourne season, she let me in on a secret. She had plans for a new production that would showcase divas who have appeared at Carnegie Hall.

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Susan Mitchell’s fifteenth book is a biography of the Whitlams, published shortly before Gough’s death in November. As a broadcaster, journalist, and author who has examined the lives of prominent Australian women, Mitchell tells the story mainly from Margaret’s perspective. This is not surprising: Mitchell had already amassed a huge body of research for her book Margaret Whitlam: A Biography (2006), and had known her since the late 1970s. And, compared to his frank and affable wife, Gough was less willing to share his personal recollections.

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Nest by Inga Simpson

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October 2014, no. 365

Inga Simpson’s second novel is set in the lush subtropical hinterland of Australia’s east coast. Jen, a reclusive artist, goes back to where she grew up and where her father was a timber-cutter, to find peace among the birds and trees. But mysteries and disappearances trouble her idyllic life.

Like her artist protagonist, Simpson has acute powers of obse ...

Silvia Kwon’s début novel explores the legacy of war on an Australian family, seen mainly through the eyes of the wife of a returned soldier. The prologue comprises a vivid and disturbing flashback to Burma in 1944, where Merna’s husband Frank spent time ‘on the line’.

Although narrated in the third person, this is Merna’s story, told from the poi ...

This début novel by Melbourne writer Suzanne McCourt is a coming-of-age story set in the wild coastal landscape of the Coorong in the 1950s. Writing from the point of view of a child, McCourt captures the heightened sensibility of her narrator, Sylvie, to portray a family in devastating close-up and a natural world teeming with smells and sounds and sights.

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Floodline is the fifth novel by Kathryn Heyman, course director at Allen & Unwin’s Faber Academy. Set in an unspecified area of the United States, it follows a proselytising family, which is on a mission to save the godless inhabitants of Horneville on the eve of their annual gay mardi gras, Hornefest, when the city is devastated by floods.

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Yvette Walker’s remarkable début novel is told in a series of letters that cross time and continents, tracing the intimate lives of three couples, one straight, one lesbian, one gay. Starting in 1969 in an artist’s studio in Cork, where a Russian painter and his Irish novelist wife exchange love letters, it moves to 2011 and a lesbian bookseller in Western Aust ...

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