Kate McFadyen

Kate McFadyen

Kate McFadyen lives in Melbourne where she works as a bookseller. She has been a contributor to Australian Book Review since 2007.

Kate McFadyen reviews '700 Days in El Salvador' by Michele Gierck

April 2007, no. 290 01 April 2007
Kate McFadyen reviews '700 Days in El Salvador' by Michele Gierck
Michele Gierck’s account of her years spent working as a human rights advocate in El Salvador raises the problem of how to understand other people’s lives. Early in 700 Days in El Salvador, she distinguishes between the two Spanish infinitives for the verb ‘to know’. Saber means to gain an understanding intellectually, through books or art, through a representation. Conocer is to understan ... (read more)

Kate McFadyen reviews 'Fields of Gold' by Fiona McIntosh

April 2010, no 320 01 April 2010
Kate McFadyen reviews 'Fields of Gold' by Fiona McIntosh
One of the things I am often called on to do as a bookseller is to make recommendations, particularly when it comes to fiction. This involves making a judgement about what a customer wants from a book, rather than what a book may want from its reader. Many readers declare from the outset that all they want from a novel is a good story they can escape into. They happily admit that they don’t want ... (read more)

Kate McFadyen reviews 'High Lean Country: Land, people and memory in New England' edited by Alan Atkinson et al.

June 2007, no. 292 01 June 2007
Kate McFadyen reviews 'High Lean Country: Land, people and memory in New England' edited by Alan Atkinson et al.
I recently went back to New England. It is a long drive from Melbourne, but as I passed through Coonabarabran and Tamworth and began the ascent up the Moonbi Ranges, my gaze responded to the strange and familiar landscape. I periodically wound down the car window to smell the air – crisp but still warm for autumn. I grew up in a few different New England towns – Inverell, Glen Innes, Armidale ... (read more)

Kate McFadyen reviews 'The Diamond Anchor' by Jennifer Mills and 'The China Garden' by Kristina Olsson

June 2009, no. 312 01 June 2009
Kate McFadyen reviews 'The Diamond Anchor' by Jennifer Mills and 'The China Garden' by Kristina Olsson
It is a common assumption that nothing much happens in small country towns; that they are insular places where people live their entire lives, unchallenged by the outside world. But I never found the towns I lived in to be stagnant: conservative and sometimes small-minded, yes, but never uniformly dull. Individuals and families come and go; people run away or arrive, seeking refuge; people return ... (read more)

Kate McFadyen reviews 'Carpentaria' by Alexis Wright

October 2006, no. 285 01 October 2006
Kate McFadyen reviews 'Carpentaria' by Alexis Wright
There is a mesmerising scene in Carpentaria when Joseph Midnight is asked if he has seen the fugitive Will Phantom, a young local Aboriginal man who is single-handedly waging a guerrilla war against a large lead ore mining company. He eyes the questioner and astutely spots him as a ‘Southern blackfella … a real smart one, educated, acting as a guide. He got on a tie, clean white shirt and a ni ... (read more)

Kate McFadyen reviews 'The Engagement' by Chloe Hooper

October 2012, no. 345 26 September 2012
Kate McFadyen reviews 'The Engagement' by Chloe Hooper
The first time The Engagement’s narrator, Liese Campbell, sees the family homestead owned by her lover, Alexander Colquhoun, she is struck by its imposing physical presence: ‘We turned a corner … The second storey came into view: eight upstairs windows and each chimney intricate as a small mausoleum.’ As she surveys the isolated Victorian mansion, with its English driveways and gardens, sh ... (read more)

Kate McFadyen reviews 'The Ghost of Waterloo' by Robin Adair

April 2011, no. 330 24 March 2011
In the afterword to The Ghost of Waterloo, Robin Adair reveals what attracts him to writing historical fiction: ‘This has been a work of what I call “friction” – facts and real people rubbing along with plausible “what-ifs”.’ The term is apt. Adair does not see historical fiction as a holistic combination of research and creativity, but as a mode in which the imagination competes wit ... (read more)