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Melbourne’s wintry streets come alive on the pages and the poetic flashes in Bailey’s writing are especially good at evoking mood and keeping the dramatic tension high. 
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Archive Discoveries

  • Marine biologist SHANNON LEONE FOWLER was embracing her fiancé, Sean, in the ocean off the coast of Thailand when a box jellyfish stung and killed him.Thai authorities tried to dismiss his death as a drunk drowning. Traveling with Ghosts follows the months Shannon spent on a strange trajectory through Eastern Europe, fleeing from the ocean and from grief. She tells us how her memoir came to be, 14 years after Sean’s death. 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 >
  • When she was 16, MADELAINE DICKIE went to Denpasar, the capital 
of Bali, on a language exchange program.
 Since then she has been fascinated with Indonesia; she has lived and studied in our northern neighbour for three years and
 she speaks Indonesian fluently. Her first novel, Troppo, tells the story of Penny, an Australian expat who flees from her career- minded boyfriend in Perth to a seemingly carefree 
life of surfing in Indonesia. Madelaine tells us how she came to write the novel. Read on >
  • For many of the families of servicemen killed in World War I, a terse telegram from the government was never going to be enough to assuage their grief. Families wrote back in their thousands, seeking more information about the fate of their loved ones. It was the task of James M Lean to reply to these families and, as author CAROL ROSENHAIN outlines in The Man Who Carried the Nation’s Grief, he did so with extraordinary empathy and sensitivity. Read on >
  • CATHY BURKE is the CEO of The Hunger Project Australia, an organisation that aims to end hunger in every part of the world by 2030. She has raised tens of millions of dollars to help empower people in Africa, India, Bangladesh and South America to feed themselves. We asked Cathy about the books that she has enjoyed reading and which have shaped her life, and we also talk about her own book, Unlikely Leaders. Read on >
  • Novelist and journalist MAGGIE ALDERSON spent her gap year as a ‘ferocious punk rocker’ working at an advertising agency and starting her own punk fanzine, for which she interviewed Bob Geldoff and Billy Idol. She went on to become the editor of Evening Standard and Elle in London. She also spent eight years in Australia as editor of Cleo and Mode, and covering fashion shows in Milan and Paris for The Sydney Morning Herald. Now back in the UK, Maggie has just released a new novel, The Scent of You. She tells us why reading fairy stories is good training for any writer, who her literary crush is, and why War and Peace is the most emotionally involving books she's ever read. Read on >
  •  Looking for an engrossing historical fiction read? gr has rounded-up eight of the best for you to try.   The books in Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series have undergone a renaissance recently after
being adapted into a BBC
TV series that has gained a cult following. When Claire Randall is thrown back in time from 1945 to 1743 she finds herself in a very different Scotland, where she is branded as an outlander or Sassenach (a derogatory word for an English person) in a country run by clans and invaded by Redcoats. Try this series if you like a well-researched historical sagas that have swashbuckling adventure and a bit of romantic romping. Read on >
  • JIM OBERGEFELL led a class action in the US Supreme Court that established marriage equality nationwide for Americans. Love Wins, co-written with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist DEBBIE CENZIPER, is the story of the love that inspired the fight for justice. ANGUS DALTON reports. Read on >
  • The changing moral code and shift in gender roes of World War II provide the backdrop for JENNIFER RYAN's debut novel The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN about the people and events that inspired the story. Read on >
  • It’s 100 years since
 Roald Dahl’s birth on 13 September 1916. For many years now, 13 September has been celebrated as Roald Dahl Day.  I love all of Roald Dahl’s books. I love the naughty antics his characters get up to in so many of his stories. I love reading about the fascinating life he led – especially his wartime flying exploits – and I really loved how he made the nasty grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine just go ‘pop’ and disappear. I think we all have someone in our life we’d like that to happen to occasionally. If you are yet to read his memoirs – Boy and Going Solo – I can’t recommend them highly enough. Read on >
  • The town of Sorrento in southern Italy sits high on a clff above the Tyrrhenian Sea, whose waters are sobuoyant and warm that you can doze off while floating on its surface. But as author KATE FURNIVALL found, the nearby city of Naples is steeped in a history of danger and wartime poverty. The UK author tells gr her latest novel, The Liberation, was inspired by the secret tunnels, mafia strongholds and the of child street gangs she encountered on a recent visit to the Bay of Naples. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Jessie Cole’s father and half-sister suicided years apart, using the same method. These deaths betrayed Cole’s trust. The mental pain her father and half-sister, Zoe, experienced showed itself in a kind of violence: humiliations designed to wound, rants ‘infected by rage’.  As tree-changers in their 70s, her psychiatrist father and home-maker mother had moved to Burringbar, a tiny town in the Northern Rivers of NSW. It’s an area many escape to in order to live in a beautiful landscape without judgement (in theory). Cocooned in a rainforest without any known grandparents or strict rules, she had a free-ranging life on a property she still calls home. Cole takes you into her child’s world; riding her father’s back across a river or hiding safe and happy in her mother’s long skirts.This perspective colours what you as the reader see of her parents. After Zoe’s suicide, Jessie expertly pulls the lens back to show a clearer picture of how the young parents around her were really behaving. It’s hard not to judge her father poorly for wreaking havoc on his family when he descends into madness. However, Cole delicately teases out her father’s personality and kinder self through his letters to her. Years later, a fisherman on a beach helps Cole to trust again. ‘I latched on to the idea of him … as though he had caught me with his hook … In his unwavering gaze I came into the light.’ Cole paints such an authentic picture of her grieving family I wanted to read more about the years that followed, which shows her great achievement in Staying. Reviewed by Josepha Dietrich Read on >

  • Filled with poignant scenes between Teddy and Radford, dark and rollicking parties, and the stark beauty of their isolation in the winter landscape, Robert Lukins has created a secret world that nurtures these troubled boys. There’s heartbreaking vulnerability, frustration and confusion, but this is balanced with self-sacrifice, tenderness and loyalty. This is a debut novel from a very accomplished writer and we can only hope that there will be many more to come. Read on >

  • The Boat People shows us how, when the powerful brutalise the powerless - with guns or laws - tidy notions of ‘right/wrong’, ‘legal/illegal,’ and ‘truth/lies’ become useless. A humane attitude must begin with kindness and compassion. Read on >

  • This is a witty book, a blend of both comedy and tragedy, full of sharp-eyed observations about life as a migrant in modern Britain, with an emotional punch behind the humour that stays with the reader. Read on >

  • Claire’s recounting of the past overshadows the story of Lucy and Ben’s current situation. Despite this, the novel is soulful, perplexing and deeply moving. The separate narrators’ tales beat with the same devastating heartbeat. This is a story of love lost and the grief it causes, of tragic circumstances and the threads that bind us all together. Read on >

  • The title valley is a narrow valley in the Shetland Islands. It contains five houses, a few people, sheep and assorted other animals.  David has lived in the valley for most of his life with his wife, Mary. Sandy has just broken up with David and Mary’s daughter, Emma, but he is the one who stays. When the valley’s oldest inhabitant dies, David becomes the executor of her croft, which he offers to Sandy in the hopes of giving the lost young man an anchor.  Meanwhile Alice, a former crime novelist who has fled to the islands to escape her grief, is trying to write a book about the island. Then there is the befuddled drunk, Terry, and the newcomers who aren’t exactly honest with their landlord, David, about why they are really there.  Remote landscapes exist as kind of self-contained microcosms, and the valley in this book is that kind of place, a world unto itself ruled by the changing of the seasons and the eternal transition from night to day and back again. In terms of narrative, very little happens over the year that is covered in the book. The story is composed of episodes in the lives of the characters as they live quiet existences entirely contained within the landscape of the valley.  This is a quietly profound work capturing both a sense of place and a sense of being contained by place. The most important character in the story is the valley, and it is beautifully realised through the human characters and their daily interactions with it.  Reviewed by Tessa Chudy     Read on >

  • This award-winning novel also rewards every reader with a rich and vibrant tale. It will make them question the very nature of humanity as Shelley did, and wonder at the value of any war, no matter how justified it may seem. Read on >

  • The Earth Does Not Get Fat is a skinny but seemingly interminable book about love and suffering. The biggest problem with the narrative is its unfortunate trajectory - life sucks, but after a holiday by the beach, replete with wine, tears and talking, suddenly, magically, everything gets better. It just doesn’t ring true. It feels like a concept undone by an over reliance on form (switching between multiple narrators) when just building the story around convincing characters might have worked better. Read on >

  • Oneiron is a complex and highly conceptual work, filled with deep and profound ideas, and is concerned with perhaps the greatest mystery faced by humanity – life after death. But when all is said and done, it is more a story about life and death. Read on >

  • Yvonne Fein is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. This collection of stories investigates experiences that have ravaged people - often irreparably. Read on >

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