Historical Fiction

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Midnight Empire' by Andrew Croome

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 26 October 2012

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 ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Burial' by Courtney Collins

Gillian Dooley
Tuesday, 25 September 2012

 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 ...

Anthony Lynch reviews 'Dissonance' by Stephen Orr

Anthony Lynch
Tuesday, 28 August 2012

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 ...

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 ...

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.

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Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'The Longing' by Candice Bruce

Francesca Sasnaitis
Wednesday, 21 March 2012

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 ...

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.

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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 ...

Morag Fraser reviews 'Autumn Laing' by Alex Miller

Morag Fraser
Tuesday, 27 September 2011

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 ...

Jo Case reviews 'All That I Am' by Anna Funder

Jo Case
Tuesday, 27 September 2011

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 ...

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