1 February 2021 Susannah

Aussie Reading

Australian Country Road

I’ve been doing more ‘Aussie’ reading than usual recently and can recommend some books I especially enjoyed.

Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan, was published in 2015. It tells the extraordinary story of the two art patrons and collectors who lived at Heide near Melbourne. The Heide Museum of Modern Art is their remarkable legacy. The book reveals the goings-on in the ‘Heide Circle’ and the intertwined relationships of the Reeds with Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, Albert Tucker, Max Harris, and many other writers and painters. The book was well written, and fascinating from beginning to end.

Shadowboxing by Tony Birch is a collection of ten linked stories about a boy growing up in 1960s Melbourne. His father drinks and is violent, and the family endures loss and forced removals. Tony Birch was the first Indigenous writer to win the Patrick White Award. Although the name of the boy in the stories is Michael, not Tony, it is clear that most of the material comes straight from the author’s life. The book was a very moving one, and beautifully written. I will look for more of his work.

Stalin’s Wine Cellar by John Baker and Nick Place is not a beautifully written book like the above, but it does tell an extraordinary story. A Double Bay wine merchant and his Canadian assistant travelled to Tbilisi in Georgia to check out a fabled cellar full of wines, said to have belonged to Tsar Nicholas II and to Stalin, and to discover if they were being hoaxed or if the cellar was the real thing. They found dark, damp cellars where wine racks had collapsed from age (smashing marvellous wines in the process), but what was still there was more than exciting – about 40,000 bottles of rare wines with a probable provenance that could be tremendously exciting. I don’t want to spoil the story by telling you more, but the tale from these wine experts was quite something.

Have you read these titles? Do you have any other Aussie books to recommend? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Featured image credit- Australian Country Road Image by G John from Pixabay
Body image credit- Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26259851-modern-love
Body image credit- Shadowboxing by Tony Birch, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/575739.Shadowboxing
Body image credit- Stalin’s Wine Cellar by John Baker & Nick Place, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55061291-stalin-s-wine-cellar

Comments (18)

  1. Kathrine Becker

    May I suggest “Searching For Charlotte” by Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell? The authors are descended from Carlottewho wrote the first Australian children’s book. She had an extraordinary life, eventful and tragic, and was the mother of Caroline Louisa Atkinson, also an author, botanist and illustrator and a better known figure. The two authors who are sisters, are descended from these writers and it is a fascib=naing story of early colonial history.

    Kathy Becker

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks Kathy, that book is on my To Read list as I know Kate Forsyth. Hope to see you soon at JASA.

      • In the last few years I have had my books published by Linellen Press. They are Australian stories and if you google my name Lyn Bodycoat you can see them. I have enjoyed writing these stories and have been thrilled to see them both on the computer screen. A ROUGH ROAD and MOMENTS AT MARATHAN.

  2. Sue scott

    Hi Susannah lovely to read your latest offerings. Have you read Aunts up the Cross” by Robin Dalton. It is hilarious and I think you would love it!
    I was interested in your boring books. I loved Boy swallows universe but not All our shimmering skies. Couldn’t get into The Luminaries and was the odd one out not liking Normal people. Glad you felt the same!
    Kind regards
    Sue Scott

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I have heard about Aunts at the Cross, so thanks to your recommendation will add it to my rading list.
      Loads of people loved Trent Dalton’s book, but I just couldn’t take to it for some reason.

  3. Sandra Faulkner

    Although a little dated I enjoy Ruth Park and D’arcy Niland for the flavour of old Australia.
    Cheers from a chilly lockdown London
    Sandra Faulkner

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Hope you are coping in lockdown, Sandra? I love Ruth Park’s series, especially as the novels are set in the area I live in.

  4. Malvina

    May I recommend The White Girl, also by Tony Birch. It addresses a lot of issues – may be too many – but is immensely readable and poignant.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks so much for the recommendation. I really enjoyed Shadow Boxing and thought he wrote beautifully.

  5. Fran Warner

    I just today finished “The Dry” by Jane Harper and, like Irene, really enjoyed it.

    Both my Mum and I were a big fan of Ruth Park and occasionally I re-read one of her novels and enjoy it just as much the second time round.

    Another Australian author I just love is Kerry Greenwood and in particular the Phryne Fisher novels.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, The Dry is a good read. I liked her book The Lost Man even more, so do try that one.
      I have also enjoyed the Phryne Fisher books, though felt the last one in the series was feeble. I think it might be a rare case of the TV series being better than the books, though I thought the Phryne Fisher movie was one of the worst movies I have ever seen!

  6. Sue McCarthy

    Dear Susannah,

    I have just read Bruny by Heather Rose. A terrific read and one hopes it is not prescient!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Many thanks for the recommendation, Sue. I hope you are keeping well?

  7. Eve Penny

    My Canadian stepdaughter put me on to A Letter From Paris by Louisa Deasey which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend. It is about her search for her father who was a writer and had been represented within her family as a failure.

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