Aussies Rule Prompt 19 – An Aussie Debut

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Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I posted a pure Aussies Rule topic, so today I thought I would talk about some great Aussie debut novels from recent years. There’s a mix of genres so you should be able to find something that interests you!

The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley – a fictional retelling of the life of Elizabeth Gould, wife of John Gould, who illustrated John’s works about Australian birds. The hardback edition is gorgeous.

Black British by Hebe de Souza – based on the author’s childhood, a look at what happened to anglicised Indian families once British colonialism ended.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox – disgraced former cop teams up with a convicted murderer to investigate the disappearance of a local author.

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic – profoundly deaf investigator Caleb Zelic is determined to find the answer to his friend’s murder.

The Dry by Jane Harper – Aaron Faulk returns to his home town to investigate his friend’s murder.

Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks – set in the distant future Australia is now a desert wasteland roamed by nomadic traders and war machines, with helpings of big lizards and killer sandstorms.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – a fictional retelling of the last days of the life of Agnes, the last woman executed in Iceland.

Terra Nullius by Claire Coleman – Australia has been colonised and the Natives are running from the Colonists and trying to save their people and their culture.

The Strays by Emily Bitto – Lily meets Eva at school and is sucked into her family – her father is an avante-garde painter and her family is living very much outside the conservative 1930s world.

Down the Hume by Peter Polites – I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s been on my pile since it first came out; Goodreads describes it as a confronting and powerful story of addiction, secrets and misplaced love.

Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven – A book in three parts Van Neerven’s traditional story-telling incorporates myth and mysticism, the feeling of belonging and what it is to be human.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada – Gene hacking and a plague that makes people explode, what more could you want?

Deadly Kerfuffle by Tony Martin – Martin was a favourite of mine back in his radio, comedy and film days. I haven’t read this one yet but I’m sure it will be worth a look.

Wasted by Elspeth Muir – part memoir part journalism, Muir reflects on her brother’s suicide from the Story Bridge in Brisbane while completely drunk, and the drinking culture in Australia that helped him get there.

What other great Aussie debuts have you come across? What will you be reading for this part of the challenge?

Cheers!

Review: The Birdman’s Wife

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The Birdman’s Wife is a beautiful piece of historical fiction which reimagines the life of Elizabeth Gould, wife of John Gould who is best known for his work documenting Australia’s birds.

The book follows Elizabeth into her marriage with John, through her early work, the loss of her two children and her trip with John to Australia to record Australia’s bird life. This was an unconventional decision for Elizabeth as it meant leaving three of her four children behind in England during the 2 year journey. But Elizabeth was clearly unconventional, working to produce over 600 lithographs while she was also bearing and raising children in an upper class family.

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This is a meticulously researched debut novel. The writing seems a little stilted at the opening of the relationship between John and Elizabeth, but then the author hits her stride and both Elizabeth and her subjects leap from the page. As the daughter of a lithographer, I enjoyed reading about the process used prior to the technology of the 20th century – incredibly difficult work which could be ruined by a fingerprint or a mistimed exhalation. I also enjoyed learning more about the research done by the Goulds and their journey through the fledgling colony. I wish there had been more mention of the Indigenous peoples, but on reflection this was probably outside of Elizabeth’s experience.

This book is a tribute both to an amazing woman and Australia’s bird life. I’m looking forward to reading more by Melissa Ashley.

 

4 out of 5  encounters with Prince Albert.