Other People’s Houses by Hilary McPhee

Reviewed by
November 2019, no. 416
Jane Cadzow reviews 'Other People’s Houses' by Hilary McPhee

Other People’s Houses

by Hilary McPhee

Melbourne University Press, $34.99 pb, 226 pp, 9780522875645

Other People’s Houses by Hilary McPhee

Reviewed by
November 2019, no. 416

In the spring of 2003, a person from Hilary McPhee’s past got in touch with her. McPhee did not remember the woman’s name but recognised her immediately when they met for coffee. At high school they had played hockey together for a team called the Colac Battlers. The woman had been working for years as a personal assistant at a palace in Jordan, and her purpose in contacting McPhee wasn’t merely to reminisce. At one point in their conversation, she lowered her voice, glanced around the busy inner-Melbourne café and said that McPhee might hear from someone in Amman, the Jordanian capital, about a writing project.

This thrillerish scene is the starting point of the second volume of McPhee’s memoirs. In the first, Other People’s Words (2001), McPhee told the story of her early life and her career in publishing, culminating in her co-founding and running the independent publishing house McPhee Gribble. The firm’s financial struggles and eventual buy-out meant the book ended on a rueful note, but McPhee subsequently went on to do other big things, including chairing – and reorganising – the Australia Council for the Arts. By the time of the odd little reunion in the cafe, she had long been a highly respected and influential figure in literary and cultural circles. But she was restless.

Jane Cadzow reviews 'Other People’s Houses' by Hilary McPhee

Other People’s Houses

by Hilary McPhee

Melbourne University Press, $34.99 pb, 226 pp, 9780522875645

From the New Issue

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.