The 2019 Stella Prize Longlist

I was at a school information night tonight, surreptitiously looking at Twitter for the announcement of the 2019 Stella Prize longlist.

And as the books were announced I had to focus on VCE assessment and ‘good study habits’ rather than sending congratulations messages to lovely authors (go Jenny, you little ripper!); hitting my library’s online reservation system; and marking books on Goodreads… I’m home now and I’m ready to start reading. Continue reading

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In the Garden of the Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey

I’m not usually one for the forced tone and repetitive structure of epistolary novels, however, I was hooked on Ceridwen Dovey’s In the Garden of the Fugitives from the very beginning.

Almost twenty years after forbidding contact, Vita receives a letter from Royce, who was once her benefactor. Vita, a film and ethnography student in her youth, was one of his brightest protégées. Continue reading

A bunch of short reviews

I am painfully behind in my reviews – the longer they go unwritten, the less likely it is to happen. These reviews hardly do justice to some of the books I’ve read (sorry Magda) but at the very least provide me with a record. Continue reading

The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper

On February 7, 2009 – a day that would become known as Black Saturday – bushfires burned vast areas of Victoria (my home state).  Extreme heat, high winds, low humidity, and severe drought combined to create the worst bushfire conditions in Australia’s recorded history (the heat from the fires was equivalent to 500 atomic bombs exploding).

Black Saturday resulted in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bush-fire event. Across Victoria, 173 people died; more than one million animals (pets, wildlife and stock) perished; over 2,000 houses and 3,500 structures were completely destroyed; and whole towns were razed (Kinglake, Marysville, Narbethong, Strathewen, and Flowerdale). The total area burnt was approximately half a million square kilomentres – to put that in perspective, the size of Spain.

The trauma can’t be measured.

Some of the fires were deliberately lit and the man responsible for starting the Central Gippsland fires is the topic of Chloe Hooper’s enthralling book, The Arsonist. Hooper gives a detailed account of the fires, the arson investigation, the arrest of a socially vulnerable man who had not previously been known to police, and his trial. Continue reading

Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives by Helen O’Neill

Fraud, sham, or the definition of ‘reinvention’? I’ll get to that…

Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives by Helen O’Neill is unquestionably a beautiful book. I’d go so far as saying it’s one of the loveliest books I own. Continue reading