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ELIZABETH STEAD talks to EMMA HARVEY about walking barefoot through art galleries, Freddie Mercury’s teeth, and her latest novel, The Aunts’ House.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • Most of us think of Australia as a sunny land filled with straightforward, open and candid people. But in ANNA ROMER’s version of the country, it’s a place filled with secrets and people who will do anything to keep them concealed. She talks with ALEX HENDERSON about her new book, Beyond the Orchard, Victoria’s haunted Otway Coast and the power of fear. Read on >
  • Former pop-punk rocker LEN VLAHOS tells Good Reading about his new YA novel, Life in a Fishbowl, and how Marcus Zusak inspired him to write from the perspective of a brain tumour. Read on >
  • Real-life historical figures and 18th-century court cases dealing with adultery inspired one of two interwoven storylines in The Wife’s Tale, a new novel by Australian author CHRISTINE WELLS. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN how the true events from the past inform her tale of scandal, intrigue, murder – and love.  Read on >
  • A young woman named edie channels the dead through her work with the shady Elysian Society in a dytopian first novel from SARA FLANNERY MURPHY. The Oklahoma-based author tells EMMA STUBLEY about her encounters with ghosts and Greek mythology and how they influened The Possessions. Read on >
  • Recent research has revealed the astonishing capabilities of dogs. We know that they can help vision- impaired people, but they can also sniff out cancer and even help to locate missing people. CAT WARREN in What the Dog Knows recounts how she adopted an unruly German shepherd puppy, Solo, who is eventually trained to locate human corpses. Read on >
  • I switched on to watch ABC TV’s The Drum one evening and discovered Jodi Picoult sitting on the panel discussion.What a great performer she is – not only an impressive writer but also an impressive speaker.The discussion at the table was raging around whether a white author has the right, or could even have the understanding, to write about black characters. As a white woman, how could she really know what’s it’s like to be a black woman, let alone a black man? How could she write black characters and make them authentic without knowing how they feel? Read on >
  • The BBC released a survey earlier this year in which they asked readers to name the books they had lied about having read. You can see the list below. I think I have read around half, as some I may have read in my youth that I’ve forgotten about (more about that later). How many of them have you read? The truth, please! 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Creativity is often thought of as a special gift bestowed on only a handful of lucky people. But as Australian novelist SUE WOOLFE points out, it’s a skill that you can cultivate. Here are five tips she used to create her latest collection of stories, Do You Love Me or What? Read on >
  • KIRI FALLS was introduced to the works of English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) when she saw the 2004 BBC production of North & South. Last year, the 150th anniversary of Gaskell’s death, Kiri decided to make a pilgrimage to the newly renovated Manchester home of the great lady. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This is a stunning novel. The Victorian world is alive on every page, from the treasures displayed at the Great Exhibition to the squalor and misery on dark streets. The writing is as beautiful and evocative as the art it describes. Despite The Doll Factory’s historical setting, its themes of love, obsession and the power balance between men and women remain relevant in the modern world. The characters are sympathetically drawn, even when they display the worst of human nature, and Iris is a captivating heroine. Read on >

  • I was really surprised at the direction this story took. The plot was interesting, allowing characters to show a genuine human fragility and compassion for the life circumstances in which they found themselves. While the two women were the primary focus, each reflected on the relationship they had with their former husbands, albeit created through different circumstances. A lovely Australian novel from an accomplished writer. Read on >

  • The mystery is well devised and central to this novel, and the book gives us a lovely, often witty and quite reverential homage to an Australian suburban childhood in the 1990s. You can go back in time with the turn of a charmingly written page. Read on >

  • This is a wonderfully rich thriller. Bartz drags the reader onto the meandering paths memories take as we shape and reshape our sense of loss after the death of a loved one. She leaves us to walk beside Lindsay as she digs out the truth hidden inside the walls of her own grief, hoping that we all make it to the other side in one piece. Read on >

  • The Wall allows us to recognise both the potential and the danger in what our modern world is tipping towards. This story will entice readers who enjoy diving into issue-focused dystopic speculative fiction and challenges us to think about what it means to exclude others, and what may be gained from welcoming outsiders and working together. Read on >

  • There is passion and an abiding affection for all libraries in this new work by the author of the bestselling book about orchid obsession, The Orchid Thief. The LA Central Library opens its doors freely to homeless people and provides services for them. This is challenging sometimes for staff but is part of the commitment by libraries around the world to be open to all people. Read on >

  • This book had me captivated and brought home to me the wonder of symbiosis. It is a must for all libraries so as the children can understand how these incredible relationships have evolved. Read on >

  • There’s plenty of political analysis in Blackout but it comes without a hint of spin. He strives to make the story of electricity and energy policy accessible and engaging in a way that cuts through the jargon and ideological bias that so often mars discussion of these issues. Warren admits that even he isn’t ‘fluent in Electricity’ – because it is indeed a language, and a technical and unromantic one. But the production of electricity has a fascinating story. Read on >

  • This novella is about a lifelong friendship between a girl called Mary and a golden snake called Lanmo − a friendship which teaches them how ‘wonderful and terrible and strange’ love is. Read on >

  • Belinda’s absent father refuses to pay for her schooling so she leaves her village in Ghana to become a housegirl in Aunty and Uncle’s house in Kumasi. She represses painful memories of her village, and is a compliant and meticulous housegirl. Read on >

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