Hello! Here we are in 2019 and I blinked, and suddenly it’s the June long weekend!
I have read SO MANY good books already this year – and a lot of them have been written by Australian women! I thought I’d share three of my favourites so far, each of which I gave a full 5 out of 5 stars!
Melina Marchetta The Place on Dalhousie
Melina Marchetta has been on my list of favourite writers since I read Looking for Alibrandi as a teen, even though I haven’t really read much of her other work. I enjoyed her thriller Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil, which (I think) came out last year, but The Place on Dalhousie is Marchetta back to her heart-hugging feeling-filled best.
I absolutely adored this book – my only complaint was that it went past too quickly. It picks up the story of the group of friends Marchetta wrote about in her previous novels Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son, but definitely stands on its own too (I haven’t read either of those yet). This time the friends are in their 20s, but the themes of family, friendships, and finding your place in the world are just as relevant as ever. I also had the opportunity to hear Marchetta speak about this book at Muse in Canberra, and she was absolutely wonderful – she is so open and generous in the way she speaks about her writing and the feelings behind it (and the events at Muse are always fantastic!).
I feel like this is a must-read for lovers of family dramas and stories about finding out where you belong in the world.
Young Adult fiction
Astrid Scholte Four Dead Queens
I heard a lot of buzz about Four Dead Queens before I got my hands (and eyes!) on it, and I was definitely not disappointed! It is an engaging closed room mystery, set in a well imagined fantasy world. I have heard some criticism of the description of the world, in particular the physical aspects, but for me it was just the right amount of details, and gave me all the information I needed to understand the society and politics (like, why are there four queens anyway?). I liked the diversity of the cast, and that the story was presented from the points of view of different characters. And although it sounds a bit weird, I really liked that this was a stand-alone, rather than being part of a series – there is something very satisfying about getting the fullness of the story in one book rather than having to wait for the next instalment.
Erin-Claire Barrow The Adventurous Princess and other Feminist Fairy Tales
My stand-out picture book for the year so far is also one that I attended an event for at Muse (did I mention how I love their events?!), and that is The Adventurous Princess and other Feminist Fairy Tales by local Canberra writer and artist Erin-Claire Barrow. In this gorgeous book Barrow has put a feminist spin on some of the world’s favourite fairy tales – giving power and strength back to the women and girls who star in them.
My favourite story in the book is Barrow’s take on The Little Mermaid – in this version, instead of tricking Ariel the sea witch makes her see that she shouldn’t have to change herself for love. I loved that not only have the stories been given a feminist twist, but the artwork shows a diverse cast of heroines – in terms of age, shape, sexuality and ability. I’m so happy to have a book of fairytales to enjoy with my five-year-old that isn’t filled with just beautiful, slim, shiny princesses! I can wait to see what Barrow will do next!
Right now I am on a bit of a rural romance/family drama run with my reading, after reading a lot of kids’ (upper primary-ish) books in May – we have so many amazing Australian authors writing for that age group right now! I also have a young adult dystopian series called Orphancorp at the top of my reading list for this long weekend (also written by and Australian woman, Marlee Jane Ward). I hope you have also been reading some amazing books, and I’ll be back with more books to chat about again soon!