Midnight Empire, the second novel by Canberra author Andrew Croome, depicts political intrigue and acts of violence that play out against the backdrop of the so-called ‘war on terror’.
The protagonist is Daniel Carter, a young Australian computer programmer who arrives in Las Vegas for business purposes. Daniel develops a taste for cards and has a ... More
In the cheeky biographical note on the press release for her first novel, The Burial, Courtney Collins expresses a wish that she might one day be ‘a “lady” poet’. If I had read that before reading the novel, I would have been slightly alarmed: with many notable exceptions, poets tend not to make good novelists. It is true that The Burial ... More
Percy Grainger has been the subject of a number of books (most notably a 1976 biography by John Bird), a play (A Whip Around for Percy Grainger, 1982) by Thérèse Radic, and a feature film, Passion (1999), by Peter Duncan. He was an avid letter-writer, and his correspondence has been anthologised and critiqued. Thanks to his eccentric way of life and sometimes erratic behavio ... More
Royals, it seems, have their tenacious uses, often fictive. Contemporaries such as Alan Bennett and Edward St Aubyn have deployed them. One hundred years ago, Ford Madox Ford wrote his singular trilogy (1906–08) about Katharine Howard, The Fifth Queen of Henry VIII. Now the esteemed novelist and memoirist Hilary Mantel returns to the Tudor world, again wi ... More
Deborah Burrows’s well-researched historical novel, A Stranger in My Street, begins with the protagonist, Meg Eaton, declaring that Sunday, 3 January 1943 was the day her life changed forever. We quickly learn why – the Stranger of the title has arrived in the eponymous Street.... More
The Longing is an ambitious first novel. Set in the Western District of Victoria, with parallel narratives in the mid-nineteenth century and the present day, its principal theme is the occupation of Gunditjmara country by white settlers, and the decimation of Indigenous tribes. Novel writing is, of course, an act of imagination, and writers should be commended for their research, tenac ... More
Judith Armstrong, a Russian and French scholar, has translated the diaries of Tolstoy’s wife, Sonya, to form the focus of her second novel. Armstrong combines an intimate knowledge of Russian literature with a close reading of the couple’s diaries to create a convincing portrait of their volatile relationship through forty-eight years of marriage.... More
The historical novel has always been characterised by a formative tension – the demands of history versus the demands of story. The author is caught between relegating the past to a prettified background, or the characters to merely personified social forces. Michelle Aung Thin’s début novel tends more towards the former than the latter, illustrating both the dangers and the pleasure to be ... More
Not since Marguerite Yourcenar’s classic Memoirs of Hadrian (1951) have I encountered a novel of such bravura intensity and insight into the jagged contours of the human heart.
Autumn Laing opens with a mercurial soliloquy. Over eighteen shimmering pages, the novel’s eponymous heroine draws scarcely a breath as, in a soul-scouring torre ... More
The heroine of All That I Am reflects that an author’s published books ‘preserve the fossil imprint on the world of that particular soul at that particular time’. In her début novel – based on real characters and events – acclaimed non-fiction author Anna Funder (Stasiland, 2003) has preserved the imprint of a particular group of souls at a vitally important histori ... More