Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Here’s the thing about Geraldine Brooks (because I’m totally qualified to comment on Geraldine Brooks, obvs) and Caleb’s Crossing (which, according to many aggrieved Goodreads members, should be called Bethia’s Crossing) –

01. Stating the obvious but she knows how to write historical fiction. I reckon Brooks tests every single word for authenticity – it’s meticulous.

02. Even the emotions her characters are feeling are ‘historically appropriate’ (tricky, right?) and yet, she manages to create these wonderfully strong females who both make a mark on their time and offer something for the present.

Is it ever thus, at the end of things? Does any woman ever count the grains of her harvest and say: Good enough? Or does one always think of what more one might have laid in, had the labor been harder, the ambition more vast, the choices more sage? Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (except that it’s winter)

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. I’m joining in, with a particular effort to read from my stacks of hard copies. The challenge is straightforward – read twenty books between June 1st and September 3rd. Continue reading

It’s been so long…


Oh, how I laughed when I read the topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven’t Read Yet. Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish notes that it’s sad that she’s had some books for six years and still hasn’t read them…. Six years? Pfft. One of the books on my list has been sitting next to my bed for fourteen years. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from Year of Wonders to The Muse


It’s time for #6Degrees – join in! Link up!

We begin the chain with an international best-selling debut that thrilled fans of historical fiction (and everyone else) when it was published in 2001 – Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Continue reading

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 Wrap-up


I enjoy the Australian Women Writers Challenge – it goes a little way to addressing the gender bias in literary review pages, plus I try to buy my AWW titles from an independent book shop (doing my bit for the Australian publishing industry and independent booksellers).

This year, I upped the ante and signed up for the Franklin level (read ten books, review at least six). I romped it in. Continue reading

Wine, dinner and listening to the lovely Hannah Kent


On Friday afternoon, I mentioned on Twitter that while people may have top plans for their evening, they wouldn’t be as good as mine. Because I was going to hear Hannah Kent speak about Burial Rites. At Montalto Winery on the Mornington Peninsula. With a delicious dinner and a glass or two of fizz. So yeah, I won.

The evening was organised by The Wheeler Centre, as part of their Good Conversation Great Wine series. After we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, author Jo Case introduced Hannah, naturally making mention of the worldwide success of Burial Rites.

Jo began by asking Hannah about the parallels between Iceland and Australia and although they’re not immediately obvious, Hannah noted the similarities in the landscapes – “In both countries, the landscape is stunning, alien and hostile. The hostility coexists with the beauty.” Continue reading

March by Geraldine Brooks


Some authors seem to have the inside word on particular things, whether it be a place, feelings or a scene. They can cut to the heart of a matter or find the perfect words to describe something. When I read a story filled with intimate detail (I don’t mean the sexy-time kind…), I assume that the author’s own experiences have informed the work. That makes perfect sense when talking contemporary literature – I, for example, could probably write something that would resonate with a girl growing up in the eighties who was obsessed with Culture Club, swimming, Princess Diana and was Team Jessica*. So how does Geraldine Brooks do it? She’s an author from Western Australia, yet is completely and thoroughly in the heart and mind of a Union Army officer during the American Civil War.

I’d forgotten just how good Brooks is until I read March. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Australian Modern Literature

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – anyone can join in. This week’s topic is a ‘freebie‘ – book bloggers can go crazy on their pet topic.

I tossed around a few ideas for a theme – I love all things Art Deco and 1920s and I’m also always drawn to stories set in New York or New England – strong possibilities for my top ten. However, from my observation, most of the bloggers participating in Top Ten Tuesday live in the US so I figured this week’s ‘freebie’ was the perfect opportunity to wave the flag for some talented Australian authors (with a particular focus on books that have been published in recent years). Here’s my top ten: Continue reading