Gillian Dooley reviews 'Places Women Make: Unearthing the contribution of women to our cities' by Jane Jose

Places Women Make: Unearthing the Contribution of Women to Our Cities

by Jane Jose

Wakefield Press $29.95 pb, 213 pp, 9781743053942

In Places Women Make, Jane Jose writes that she is ‘not proving a theory about the skills of men versus those of women’, but celebrating ‘the places in cities we know women have given us’.

Jose moves with sometimes disorienting rapidity from place to place, from female lord mayor to colonial matron to feisty 1970s female activist. We learn that the female perspective is ‘different’, that women are natural storytellers and homemakers, that ‘listening and talking is the way women love to work’. We are continually told that women are ‘instinctive’, ‘warm’, ‘intuitive’, ‘always concerned with the survival of the species’, and ‘love gardening and making gardens’. Some women, ‘despite these female characteristics’, are also determined, ambitious, persistent, and strong. Most women she includes are in positions of wealth and privilege, either by marriage or birth. There are few working-class heroines here.

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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 at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.

Published in May 2016, no. 381

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