Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

I could make my review of Emma Jane Unsworth’s latest novel, Adults, all about gin, because the (23) gin-related scenes are glorious. For example –

‘OH MY GOD.’
‘What?’
‘GET ME A GIN, MOTHER.’
She gets me a gin. I am in the same position when she comes up: calcified. I take the gin without moving my face or indeed any part of myself.

and

‘Right,’ says my mother. ‘Do you want a gin?’
‘Yes please,’ says Nicolette. My mother runs off.
‘Don’t let her make you a gin,’ I say. ‘You’ll never get out of bed again. She does all-inclusive-package-holiday measures.’

But a review of gin scenes probably won’t inform your decision about whether to read this book. Actually, knowing my blog readers, it might… Continue reading

Yarra Valley Writers Festival

There are some upsides to our COVID-19 isolation. For example, events turning into online affairs. Such was the case with today’s Yarra Valley Writers Festival – had it been held as was intended (a weekend of author talks in the Yarra Valley), I would not have been able to attend, but with the cancellation of weekend sports and the Festival moved online, I was able to enjoy the full program.

The Festival was live-streamed over ten hours. I ‘attended’ eight sessions, which covered topics ranging from bushfires and nature, to grief, families and religion. Too much to recap, so instead some soundbites: Continue reading

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

When I was sixteen, I visited my grandma one afternoon and, on arriving at her house, found her in tears. The last of the ‘Old Girls’ had died. The ‘Old Girls’ were her life-long friends – a group of women who had met during the War and stayed close for decades. They always referred to themselves as the ‘Old Girls’, even when they were young women. And so suddenly, my grandma was the last Old Girl. It was deeply shocking for me because, until that moment, I had never really thought about friends dying.

This is the subject of Charlotte Wood’s novel, The Weekend. Three friends in their seventies gather for a last weekend at the holiday home of their mutual friend, Sylvie, who has recently died. There’s former restaurateur Jude, organised and bossy; Wendy, an acclaimed intellectual, who continues to write; and beautiful, flighty Adele, a renowned actress whose work has dwindled to almost nothing.  Over the course of the weekend, the dynamics of their relationships are revealed, and the absence of Sylvie felt.

This was something nobody talked about: how death could make you petty. And how you had to find a new arrangement among your friends, shuffling around the gap of the lost one, all of you suddenly mystified by how to be with one another. Continue reading

The 2020 Stella Prize Longlist

Every year my kids’ school has a vital information night on at the same time as the Stella Prize longlist announcement. So, while I would have preferred to be at the Melba Spiegeltent for the announcement, I was instead in a school hall, pretending to listen to VCE study tips and surreptitiously looking at Twitter as the longlist was revealed.

I’m home now and I’m ready to start reading. Continue reading

Stella Prize 2020 Longlist Predictions

The Stella Prize 2020 longlist will be announced tomorrow night.

Unlike the judges, I’ve only read a dozen or so eligible books but I’m aware of a bunch that keep crossing my radar. On that rather flimsy basis, I’m predicting the longlist*. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. I’m sure Australia’s bushfires have made world news. The stats* are staggering and almost incomprehensible. I won’t turn this into a rant about our government’s lack of action (no, even acknowledgment) on climate change but this article is worth a read.

“Australia is the canary in the coal mine.”

Continue reading