Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Birdman's Wife' by Melissa Ashley

Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Birdman's Wife' by Melissa Ashley

The Birdman’s Wife

by Melissa Ashley

Affirm Press $32.99 hb, 390 pp, 9781925344998

The Birdman’s Wife is about passion, obsession, and ambition. Narrated by Elizabeth (Eliza) Gould, the novel relates her marriage to, and creative partnership with, zoologist John Gould. Opening with their meeting at the Zoological Society of London in 1828, Eliza’s narrative charts the years of her collaboration with Gould – including the time spent in the Australian colonies classifying and illustrating the native birdlife – as a result of which she came to be celebrated ‘not just [as] a wife and mother’, but as a zoological illustrator in her own right.

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Anna MacDonald

Anna MacDonald

Anna MacDonald is a writer and bookseller based in Melbourne. Her work has appeared in Splice, 3AM Magazine, the Sydney Review of Books, and Australian Book Review. A collection of her essays, Between the Word and the World, will be published by Splice in October 2019. Her début novel, The Weight of Water, is also forthcoming from Splice in 2020.

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