Brenda Niall

Brenda Niall reviews 'Upstate' by James Wood

Brenda Niall
25 October 2018

Forget the author – it’s the book that matters. That’s sound advice, but there are times when it is hard to follow. James Wood’s Upstate is a testing case. A quietly refle More

Barney Zwartz reviews 'Newman College: A history 1918–2018' by Brenda Niall, Josephine Dunin, and Frances O’Neill

Barney Zwartz
30 August 2018

Drive along College Crescent, the circular avenue that forms Melbourne University’s northern order, and you will see the series of sedate, handsome university colleges that line the edge More

Brenda Niall reviews 'Loving Words: Love letters of Nettie and Vance Palmer 1909–1914' by Deborah Jordan

Brenda Niall
23 August 2018

When Vance Palmer met Nettie Higgins in the summer of 1909 in the sedate setting of the State Library of Victoria, they were both twenty-three years old. Yet even to speak to one another w More

Brenda Niall reviews 'Rosie: Scenes from a vanished life' by Rose Tremain

Brenda Niall
25 July 2018

‘Write about what you don’t know,’ British novelist Rose Tremain advised young authors. That has been her own strategy during a long and star-studded career. It is quite a stretch fr More

Critic of the Month with Brenda Niall

25 May 2018

ABR: What makes a fine critic? BN: Enthusiasm, eloquence, a distinctive voice, openness to the unexpected, a well-stocked mind, wit, and humour: some or all of these gifts would make the ideal reviewer ...

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Brenda Niall reviews 'The Shepherd’s Hut' by Tim Winton

Brenda Niall
22 February 2018

There are no sheep grazing anywhere near the shepherd’s hut of Tim Winton’s new novel. A few wild goats in the desolate landscape, some broken machinery: that’s all. The narrator, fi More

Brenda Niall reviews 'Mrs Osmond' by John Banville

Brenda Niall
20 December 2017

The last page of Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady (1881) leaves its heroine, Isabel Osmond, with an ambiguous choice. To go back into the cage of her wretched marriage might be More

Brenda Niall reviews 'A Life of My Own' by Claire Tomalin

Brenda Niall
19 December 2017

When a biographer tells her own story, the rules change. Because the subject is the self, the problem is not so much a search for the unknown, but what to tell about the known and how to t More

2017 Books of the Year

Australian Book Review
26 November 2017

To celebrate the best books of 2017 Australian Book Review invited nearly forty contributors to nominate their favourite titles. Contributors include Michelle de Kretser, Susan Wy More

Brenda Niall reviews 'Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a lady novelist' by Anne Boyd Rioux

Brenda Niall
22 August 2016

If Constance Fenimore Woolson is remembered today, it is likely to be as a friend of Henry James, and a minor character in his much-chronicled life. Anne Boyd Rioux's ...

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