Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013 Wrap-up

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Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi! I enjoy the Australian Women Writers Challenge – it goes a little way to addressing the gender bias in literary review pages, plus I try to buy my AWW titles from an independent book shop (doing my bit for the Australian publishing industry and independent booksellers).

I signed up for the Miles challenge (read 6 books, review at least 4) but managed to complete the Franklin level (read 10 books, review at least 6). Continue reading

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The Meaning of Grace by Deborah Forster

The Meaning of Grace by Deborah Forster is a story of betrayals – real and perceived, small and large. It’s also a story of siblings and of mothers and daughters.

“How did it come to this? I thought I tried to be fair to them both and to Ted. It seems that nothing is ever good enough now. My mother was such a mother to me, but I never understood brothers and sisters. I just thought they’d be the best thing.”

At the centre of the story is Grace Fisher, a somewhat detached mother of three. Grace does her best in the circumstances – she leaves her depressed husband and Melbourne behind and moves to Yarrabeen, a seaside town in Victoria. There she makes do – a job in a bakery, a new relationship and raising the kids.

Each child is left to find meaning on their own. Edie, the eldest, feels perpetually unloved and short-changed. The middle child, Juliet, careens through life, pretty and manipulative, her steely resolve revealed in a couple of surprising plot twists.  Ted, the baby of the family is largely immune to what life is dishing up to the Fishers, sheltered by the women around him. When Grace is diagnosed with terminal cancer, the siblings are forced to deal with family relationships.

“Her hard eyes are not really Grace’s at all, though the anonymity is something she recognises from childhood. But she sees it’s just a reference to the mother who scared them, who wanted them not to bother her, at least not all the time, and whose fury was well worth avoiding. That mother is lost and so is her kindness. Growing old has revealed all the mothers she once was.” Continue reading