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Most of us grew up with fairytales in which male characters got to do most – if not all – of the swashbuckling, princess-saving and other acts of derring-do. But as KATE FORSYTH explains, there have always been empowered female characters in folklore, and her new collection of retold tales, Vasilisa the Wise, brings these kick-ass female figures to the fore. We asked Kate to tell us about the book.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • Stretching across generations and set on the Atherton Tablelands where she lives, the latest novel from prolific Australian author BARBARA HANNAY is a saga of loss, love, secrets and salvation. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN 
about her writing life, and how The Grazier's Wife evolved.   Read on >
  • For some women, bad men cast an irresistibly magnetic spell. Melbourne-based author LAURA ELIZABETH WOOLLETT examines this often fatal attraction in  The Love of a Bad Man, a collection of 12 stories based on the lives of real women who sought the love of criminals. In this extract from ‘Eva’, the author imagines the post-coital thoughts of Eva Braun, who met Adolf Hitler when she was 17. Read on >
  • Aristotle said that metaphor consists in giving a thing a name that belongs to something else. Shakespeare used metaphor when he wrote ‘All the world’s a stage’, drawing parallels between the planet and a theatrical performance space so that we might more easily understand what the world is like. Metaphors, by likening one thing to another, help us to understand things, or aspects of them, that might otherwise be difficult to comprehend. In Metaphors Be With You, DR MARDY GROTHE takes a historical look at how metaphors have been used to understand a huge range of topics, from adversity, beauty and curiosity through to love, war and vanity. Read on >
  • Perth crime writer David Whish-Wilson reveals how the history of organised crime in WA and his many encounters with criminals, from teaching writing to inmates to meeting biker gangs, has influenced his novels.  Read on >
  • Born in London, retired doctor TONY ATKINSON spent the first years of his life in a cage dangling out of a window. But he went on to serve the Queen and Winston Churchill during his early career as a footman and waiter, which he recalls in hilarious stories in he memoir, A Prescribed Life. Read on >
  • Australian film director BRUCE BERESFORD (Driving Miss Daisy, Paradise Road) and film producer SUE MILLIKEN (Black Robe and Sirens) have collaborated on several films over their long careers. Their new book, There’s a Fax from Bruce: Edited correspondence between Bruce Beresford & Sue Milliken 1989- 1996, collects the communications – full of industry gossip, news and thoughts on books and films – from a pre-email era between these two filmmaking luminaries. They tell us here about the books that have influenced them. Read on >
  • JOHN KINSELLA is the author of 30 books and is the three-time winner of the WA Premier's Book Award for Poetry. He's a fellow at Cambridge's Churchill college and the editor of international literary journal Salt. The self-described vegan/anarchist/pacifist tells Good Reading asked him about his new short story collection, Old Growth.   Read on >
  • Kit, only 19 years old, works for Shen Corporation
as a phenomenaut – a person who projects their consciousness into the bodies of animals bred for research purposes. This is the strange and intriguing premise of The Many Selves of Katherine North. ANGUS DALTON puts some questions to EMMA GEEN, author of this new novel. Read on >
  • When she’s not training her inquisitorial blowtorch on politicians and other people who have questions to answer, ABC reporter and presenter SARAH FERGUSON loves to delve into a book. Her new book, The Killing Season Uncut, recounts the behind-the-scenes tales of the television program about the tumultuous Rudd–Gillard years. We asked the multi-award winning Four Corners reporter to tell us about the books that have influenced her. Read on >
  • Paul Mitchell is a poet, short story writer, and now a novelist with the release of We. Are. Family. Read on to find out about Paul's poetry, writing, and the way he explores family trauma and masculinity in Australia.  Read on >
  • GEORGIA BLAIN is a novelist and journalist who lives in Sydney. Her first novel, Closed for Winter, was adapted into movie in 2009. LEONIE DYER asked Georgia about her latest novel, Between a Wolf and a Dog. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Fresh Complaint is sheer joy to read. These stories may be short, but they are so perfectly sequenced and homogenous in style and content that they leave the impression of a beautifully crafted novel. Read on >

  • Jane Harper’s first book, The Dry, emphasised drought; this time the action is concentrated in a rainforest. It’s an area where four young female hikers went missing some years ago. Three bodies have been found and Martin Kovac, a serial killer, was arrested. One bushwalker, Sarah Sondenberg, is still missing. Her parents have accepted that she’s unlikely to be alive but they would like her body to be found. They want to give her a proper burial. Read on >

  • This is a story of love, friendship and the bonds between women, all of whom are extraordinary in their own way. It’s also a reminder that not all lives are as they appear; passions, fears and complexities lie behind every facade. Read on >

  • If you relish Gothic mystery then this novel is for you. Set in London and a country house known as The Bridge in the 1600s and the 1800s, the story centres on the Bainbridge family. Elsie Bainbridge lives in a late 19th-century mental asylum. Mute and described as a murderess, she has a new doctor who encourages her to write her story. Read on >

  • This absorbing novel reads unsettlingly like the story of the colonial conquest of this land hundreds of years ago, with deep and bitter truths and parallels throughout. Read on >

  • While some events are predictable, there are enough shocks to keep the interest high. The creative ending is unpredictable. A partial redemption comes in a shocking way – but it was a long time coming. A great read if you enjoy psychological thrillers. Read on >

  • It’s easy to see why Now Let’s Dance has critics atwitter. First published in the original French last year, it’s already become a bestseller overseas and has been compared to The Little Paris Bookshop and The One-Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Whether you’re a Francophile or just looking for an escapist story, Now Let’s Dance may be the tonic you need for life’s ups and downs. Read on >

  • The story of teenage girls Debbie Vickers and Sue Knight – as first outlined in the bestselling 1979 novel Puberty Blues – has captivated millions. With brutal honesty, it shined a light on how teenage Australian girls grew up in the 1970s. Puberty Blues became an Australian cult classic that has been adapted for film and TV, and many fans have wanted to know what happened to the girls beyond the story. Kathy Lette now gives the answer in After the Blues. This is a good novel. It’s a combination of Lette’s original and current writing styles, and fans of her previous work will no doubt devour it. Read on >

  • This novel is equally intriguing and confusing. But if you like your historical fiction quirky and mysterious, full of ideology, theology, political unrest and intrigue, you will find this book a delight. While based on real events, I recommend you suspend any notions of reality. Read on >

  • Comedian Tony Martin has written a very funny satirical novel inspired by actual letters to an editor of a suburban newspaper. The misunderstandings, unforgettable characters and cynical media figures generate a host of laugh-out-loud moments. Read on >

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