Australian Women’s Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge

2012 Book Challenge

This challenge, as you’ll see at the webpage , is to reverse the gender bias in the reviewing of Australian women’s writing; the challenge is from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012.

My goal is to read 6 and review at least 3 books by Australian women writers.

My list (yet to be completed) includes:

Foal’s Bread, by Gillian Mears;

Tete a Tete: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, by Hazel Rowley;

All that I am, by Anna Funder;

The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, by Henry Handel Richardson;

Lilian’s Story, by Kate Grenville;

The Man who Loved Children, by Christina Stead.

Some of these will be re-reads for me, some first dates.

My review of Foal’s Bread, by Gillian Mears, has already been posted.

I’m being a bit lazy, in including one book I’ve already reviewed for a newspaper (Foal’s Bread), one I’m half-way through (Tete a Tete), and three that are among my loved library of new and old books (guess which!).  But then, I have a busy year of editing and my own writing ahead of me, so I’m economising, but also looking forward to revising some books that have been meaningful for me.



Filed under Australian Women Writers

6 responses to “Australian Women’s Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge

  1. Just finished reading Foal’s Bread and loved it. We read it as part of our Bookclub at avid reader where we read only recently published australian authors. Mostly they are good or passably but as you say in you subsequent post, some forgettable and others flawed. Still I like to be forced to read australian authors simply to get a feel for what others are writing about my world. and occassionally someone line Gillian Mears comes along. I loved it at many many levels – its language, it earthy smell, its sense of hope and loss and mystery and finally its redemptive power. Of course set in the Grafton district gave it a special meaning. I gave it a 9 out of 10. Most of our group liked it though one woman hated every aspect of it. She gave it a two! I wondered if we’d read the same book. I haven’t read your review yet but I will asap.

    • Christina Houen

      I’m so glad you loved it too. I wonder how you felt about Noah’s relationship with her uncle, and the consequences of that. I thought it was delicately done, from her point of view, without judgement, so you could walk in her shoes. It is rare to write on a taboo topic without censoring and judging. I did find it challenging, but I could totally see how she felt, and why she felt that way. I love your summary of the book and I concur with it: “its language, it earthy smell, its sense of hope and loss and mystery and finally its redemptive power”. I wonder if it will win an award. I hope so, it deserves it. Spread the word!! BTW, I didn’t realise it is set around Grafton, I thought it might be further north, round Mullumbimby.

  2. Grafton and the jackarandas. Have you visited down that way. They have an annual Jackarandah festival such is the overwhelming presence of that species. Grafton was a only a geographical reference point for the story whereas I agree, it felt like Mullimbimby.

    I was surprised and impressed that Mears didn’t paint Uncle Nip as a monster. There was a strange love between him and Noah, as told by Noah, and given the harsh personality of her father his relationship with her may have been the closest she came to experiencing a sort of love. I was also amazed that this didn’t seem to effect or poison her relationship with Rowley which was every bit as passionate and loving as the best of relationships.

    The ladies in my BookClub (all modern young intelligent women) were sympathetic to this treatment, admiring Mears restraint. They still saw him as a predator – but in a strange way , who are we to judge? The conversation turned to the incident with Uncle Owey and Noah’s furious (and brutal) response. We talked about what this showed about her understanding of this moment and how it maybe changed her understanding of her Uncle Nip and his attentions. It was a sad but late reconciliation moment for Noah and Lainey.

    That’s one of the things I loved about the book – it was so layered and so complex in its honest presentation of flawed characters. It scared me because it was not evil but recognisable.

    • Oh, I missed the references to Grafton. I have only passed through it, would love to stop off there in Jacaranda season.

      I totally agree with your reading of Noah and her relationships; I was surprised, too, by how she didn’t seem scarred by the relationship with Uncle Nip, though the ‘loss’ of her baby was a lasting wound, and I was also surprised by the violence of the Uncle Owey incident, and, as you suggest, how that reflected back on the other uncle and her love for him. When it was her own daughter who was being seduced, it was as if she felt all the rage she had suppressed or simply not felt when she was a girl. So deep and mysterious. The psyche is not like a textbook, and Mears opens it up, as other great writers have, in all its complexities and contradictions. And yes, it is scary to see these reflections of ourselves in characters who are both so like and so unlike us.

  3. Christinia, thanks for your participation in the AWW challenge.

    Did you see the Australian Women Writers challenge feedback survey? It’s for giving feedback to Bookseller & Publisher. It would be great if you could add your response (very quick 10 questions: takes 2 minutes):

  4. Done, thanks, Elizabeth. Life has taken over my intention to read a certain number of books, but I did enjoy the ones I’ve read!

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