The Dressmakers Secret by Rosalie Ham

There’s always a risk with sequels, particularly when you love the bit that came first. And I enjoyed The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham – her signature blend of rural Australian noir, satire, and the lampooning of small-town politics was good fun. With Ham’s stories, there’s never any doubt as to who the ‘goodies’ and the ‘badies’ are – it’s the book equivalent of a pantomime, where you’re shouting “He’s behind you!”

The Dressmaker’s Secret follows Ham’s formula – there’s a bit of mystery and intrigue; and you know the villains will eventually get their comeuppance. Continue reading

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird

I didn’t need much convincing about the importance of feeling ‘wonder and awe’ when I started reading Julia Baird’s part-memoir-part-essay-collection, Phosphorescence. The book begins with Baird’s experience of ocean swimming. I know the feelings she describes. I know those feelings from the sea. I know those feelings every time I look up at the clouds. I know those feelings when I gaze at the muddy sweep of the Yarra.

Something happens when you dive into a world where clocks don’t tick and inboxes don’t ping. As your arms circle, swing and pull along the edge of a vast ocean, your mind wanders, and you open yourself to awe, to the experience of seeing something astonishing, unfathomable or greater than yourself. Continue reading

The Details by Tegan Bennett Daylight

I think Tegan Bennett Daylight added the subtitle ‘Reading, Love and Death’ to her memoir/essay collection, The Details, just so that I’d buy it. Obviously I did. Immediately. What’s better than reading about reading, love and death? Nothing!

And this book delivered. Continue reading

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Every year I look forward to the announcement of the ‘word of the year’ – some years I agree with the choice, other years they’re less meaningful to me (‘youthquake’ didn’t shake my world in 2017 but I’m pleased ‘climate emergency’ was recognised last year).

Pip Williams’s novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, explores the development of the Oxford English Dictionary through the lens of gender, historical events, and social structure. Williams uses real and imaginary characters to tell the story, which spans the women’s suffrage movement and the beginning of the Great War. Continue reading