Personal Effects

Personal Effects

Personal Effects

by Carmel Macdonald Grahame

UWA Publishing, $24.99 pb, 244 pp, 9781742585345

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


A woman, married but alone, stands at a window in a high-rise apartment in Calgary watching the snow fall. Later she might unpack a carton, go out to eat, go to bed. That is about all that happens in the present time in Grahame’s Personal Effects. The rest is memory. This woman, Lilith, from a coastal town in Western Australia, ruminates on a life story filled perhaps with more loss than than most Australians have to endure, but also with plenty of love to balance, if not compensate. There is her beloved husband, Ross, and two impressive daughters. Lilith’s mosaics provide the central image for the book. ‘Journal Fragments’ from various periods of her adult life splinter the narrative, inviting comparison between her artworks’ composition from sharp-edged shards and her story’s construction from episodes of painful loss.

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Published in May 2014 no. 361

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