Fiction

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alancing the big picture with the intimate details that engage us when reading a novel is not easy. This latest book from veteran Australian author Tom Keneally is epic in scope, but takes us into the intimate worlds of particular people. This is the way to tell a story about an event as mammoth as World War I. Keneally, the author of Schindler’s Ark ...

Why is the measure of love loss? As I worked my way through the hundred vignettes that comprise My Hundred Lovers, my thoughts kept returning to this first line of a novel by Jeanette Winterson that is similarly preoccupied with the interlinking of the body, love, sex, and death. My Hundred Lovers is the story of a life rendered as a litany of bodily memories. The twin-faced a ...

Amy Baillieu reviews 'Eleven Seasons' by Paul D. Carter

Amy Baillieu
Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Eleven Seasons is an impressive début novel from this year’s Vogel Prize winner, Paul D. Carter. A nimble and understatedcoming-of-age story, it takes its rhythm and structure from football, but encompasses so much more. Over the course of the eponymous eleven seasons, Carter follows Jason’s progress from a forlorn, yearning boy into an adult, while ex ...

Carol Middleton reviews 'Mary Bennet' by Jennifer Paynter

Carol Middleton
Wednesday, 23 May 2012

This début novel by Sydney playwright Jennifer Paynter is a skilful retelling of Pride and Prejudice, narrated by Mary Bennet, the forgotten middle sister. Mary’s character is true to Austen’s original conception. She is bookish, plain, and unloved, although romance soon appears on the horizon in this version of events.

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Deborah Burrows’s well-researched historical novel, A Stranger in My Street, begins with the protagonist, Meg Eaton, declaring that Sunday, 3 January 1943 was the day her life changed forever. We quickly learn why – the Stranger of the title has arrived in the eponymous Street.

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Cecily Lockwood’s heart ‘bounced like a trout’. An arresting simile on the first page of a novel is always a good sign, but will this piscatorial comparison mean anything to young readers? No matter, back to those footsteps climbing the dark stairs to twelve-year-old Cecily’s room, where she is quailing under the bed. She pictures her older brother Jeremy in the next room, his ...

In Ruby Moon’s family, the colour red is associated with shame, sin, death, and – much later – love, triumph, and happiness. Creative, introverted Ruby (nicknamed ‘Button’ after swallowing one as a child) is twin to daring Sally. Ruby describes them as one moth: ‘two wings grown from the same beginning.’ Two halves, not yet formed.

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Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Mountain' by Drusilla Modjeska

Gillian Dooley
Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Papua New Guinea doesn’t loom large in Australian literature. As Nicholas Jose says, our ‘writers have not much looked in that direction for material or inspiration’. Drusilla Modjeska is thus entering relatively new territory for Australian fiction with an ambitious epic set in PNG. It is also a new venture for her: Poppy (1990), her only previous ‘novel’, won two non-fictio ...

Christine Piper reviews 'Running Dogs' by Ruby J. Murray

Christine Piper
Monday, 23 April 2012

How much does the average Australian know about Indonesia? Not the tourist version, with its resorts and beaches and lacklustre nasi goreng – but the wider culture, history, and people. At best, Indonesia is a tantalising enigma to most Australians. At worst, it is ignored – a vast nation about which we neither know nor care, despite its importance as one of our closest neighbours.

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Three years after her first novel, The Book of Emmett, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of a troubled family, Melbourne writer Deborah Forster covers similar territory in her second, The Meaning of Grace. It opens with an elderly woman named Grace dying of cancer in hospital, then rewinds several decades, back to when a much younger Grace and her children moved to ...

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