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 writes about spatial poetics and the topographical imagination. She has published numerous essays on W.G. Sebald, Gaston Bachelard, and contemporary artists including Susan Norrie, Cindy Sherman, and Jenny Holzer. Her short stories have appeared in international anthologies and she is currently writing a novel. Anna is a Research Associate at Monash University and bookseller at Melbourne's Paperback Bookshop.

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