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Laura Elizabeth Woollett

Laura Elizabeth Woollett

Laura Elizabeth Woollett is the author of a short story collection, The Love of a Bad Man (Scribe, 2016), and two novels, Beautiful Revolutionary (Scribe, 2018) and The Newcomer (Scribe, 2021). Beautiful Revolutionary was shortlisted for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, while The Love of a Bad Man was shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. She is a 2020–2022 Marten Bequest Scholar for Prose. 

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews ‘Pheasants Nest’ by Louise Milligan

June 2024, no. 465 22 May 2024
A mid-career genre change is always cause for attention. Best known for her fearless investigations into institutional sexual abuse, it is hardly surprising that Louise Milligan should transfer her journalistic nous and commitment to social justice into the realm of crime fiction. Pheasants Nest is part of a movement in post-#MeToo crime fiction, which has flourished in Australia and abroad in the ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews ‘Days of Innocence and Wonder’ by Lucy Treloar

January-February 2024, no. 461 19 December 2023
Through the gates of a kindergarten in Melbourne’s inner-north, a man strikes up a conversation with two little girls, which violently alters the course of their lives. The bolder of the pair, a child who ‘runs at life’, goes with him. The meeker stays behind, becoming the serial predator’s only known survivor. Eighteen years on, Till – as the survivor renames herself, after Cat Stevens ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews three novels about female identity

June 2023, no. 454 24 May 2023
Pip Finkemeyer’s Sad Girl Novel (Ultimo, $34.99 pb, 304 pp) is likely to divide readers, based on its title alone. For this reader, the immediate response was cynicism: another début about a young woman adrift and feeling sorry for herself? While unhappy women have populated art – and created it – for centuries, in 2023 the ‘sad girl’ is an aesthetic shorthand that conjures images of Ul ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews 'Dark Mode' by Ashley Kalagian Blunt

March 2023, no. 451 23 February 2023
An early-morning jogger. An alleyway. A young woman’s mutilated body. A set-up familiar enough to warrant its own Television Tropes category (‘Jogger Finds Death’). Yet before catching sight of the latter-day Black Dahlia being pecked at by ibises somewhere off Enmore Road, unlucky passer-by Reagan Carsen is caught in a spider’s web: a simple but effective visual metaphor for the wider web ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews 'Lapvona' by Ottessa Moshfegh

October 2022, no. 447 27 September 2022
‘Lapvona dirt is good dirt,’ say the inhabitants of the titular medieval fiefdom in which Ottessa Moshfegh’s fourth novel, Lapvona, takes place. While the description refers to Lapvona’s rich soil, it could easily be an artistic statement. Moshfegh has long been an author concerned with physical and existential waste, and a vector for protagonists who alternately wallow in and renounce the ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews 'Red' by Felicity McLean

June 2022, no. 443 23 May 2022
‘Everyone knows how it ends,’ declares Ruby ‘Red’ McCoy, the fourteen-year-old narrator of Felicity McLean’s second novel, Red. ‘What people are less interested in hearing is how it all got started.’ The ending in question is Ruby’s attempted murder of a police officer, a crime that is heralded from the novel’s outset. In this retelling of the Ned Kelly legend, McLean sets Red a ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews 'A Great Hope' by Jessica Stanley

March 2022, no. 440 21 February 2022
There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen,’ Vladimir Lenin has been credited with saying, with reference to the Bolshevik Revolution. It’s a sentiment that immediately springs to mind when reading Jessica Stanley’s A Great Hope, a début that, while not billed as historical fiction, is deeply concerned with history and its making.  ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews 'The Last Woman in the World' by Inga Simpson

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
Rachel isn’t the last woman in the world, but she might as well be. Cloistered in her bushland home on Yuin country, in New South Wales, Rachel’s days consist of birdsong, simple meals prepared from a pantry stocked with home-made preserves, and glass-blowing in her private studio – a craft that is both her livelihood and her religion. It’s a peaceful yet precarious existence. The land is ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews 'The Details: On love, death and reading' by Tegan Bennett Daylight

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
When William Blake wrote of seeing ‘a World in a Grain of Sand’, he meant the details: their ability to evoke entire universes. So did Aldous Huxley when, experimenting with mescaline, he discovered ‘the miracle … of naked existence’ in a vase of flowers. More recently, Jenny Odell’s bestseller How To Do Nothing: Resisting the attention economy (2019) made a case for rejecting producti ... (read more)

Laura Elizabeth Woollett reviews 'The Rain Heron' by Robbie Arnott

June–July 2020, no. 422 26 May 2020
In an unnamed land under the thrall of a mysterious coup, mountain-dweller Ren wants only to live off the grid, undisturbed by human contact. Ren’s familiarity with the natural world becomes a liability when a band of soldiers comes seeking information that only she can provide: the whereabouts of a fabled bird with the ability to make it rain. Despite a decided ambiguity about exactly where an ... (read more)
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