FOUR COURA­GEOUS

AUSSIE WOMEN

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Christmas Baking -

MILES FRANKLIN: A SHORT BI­OG­RA­PHY by Jill Roe, HarperCollins

“Mar 30, 1899. Here­with a yarn I have writ­ten … with a lit­tle of that myth­i­cal com­mod­ity love, thrown in for young read­ers. Await­ing re­ply, Miles Franklin.” She didn’t wait long – in a week An­gus and Robert­son re­jected My

Bril­liant Ca­reer – “a se­ri­ous mis­take”, Ge­orge Robert­son later ac­knowl­edged. It was pub­lished by Black­wood in 1901, when Miles was 21. The bril­liant writer died in 1954 and left her es­tate to es­tab­lish the Miles Franklin Award for lit­er­a­ture. At her fu­neral, the min­is­ter read from her other suc­cess All That

Swag­ger: “All too swiftly the day de­scended and de­clined.”

REACH­ING TIN RIVER by Thea Ast­ley, Text

Beau­ti­ful re­print of this 1990 novel by fear­less au­thor Ast­ley. Coura­geous nar­ra­tor Belle longs for the love and com­pany of her mother Bon­nie, but she is “rarely ma­ter­nal and spas­mod­i­cally present”. Mean­while, elder sis­ter Marie and Bon­nie “welded a part­ner­ship stronger than mar­riage”. Pow­er­fully poignant sto­ry­telling, as Bon­nie tells breath­less Belle her favourite bed­time story - “the stuff of leg­end” - about the guests at Marie’s 18th birth­day party. But she for­gets to in­clude the “vi­tal piece of colour” about the bank clerk; Belle squeal­ing, “With lots of teeth… and flat feet.” You can feel her de­fla­tion.

MY MOTHER, A SE­RIAL KILLER by Hazel Baron & Janet Fife-Yeomans, HarperCollins

When 15-year-old Hazel Baron got a job at a NSW hospi­tal, she got away from the mother “who never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. Rewind to 1950, when Dul­cie Baron, Hazel, nine, and her sib­lings sleep in tents. Dad Ted is out of hospi­tal and un­happy about “hanger-on” Harry Bodsworth. In the morn­ing Ted is gone – his body found in the Mur­ray River. Dul­cie and Harry are charged with his mur­der. Hazel bravely tes­ti­fies in court. Later, Hazel and her hus­band fos­tered more than 100 chil­dren. “I thought, I’ll make up for a bit of what she had done.”

THE EPIC VOYAGES OF MAUD BERRIDGE by Sally Berridge, Blooms­bury

“I wish I had known you,” writes Sally Berridge to her late great-grand­mother Maud. When re­search­ing fam­ily in Eng­land, the au­thor dis­cov­ered two of Maud’s di­aries at the Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum. Wed to mas­ter mariner Henry Berridge, Maud ac­com­pa­nied her hus­band on five voyages. In 1869 the new bride sailed to Mel­bourne, Henry tak­ing the wheel as Cap­tain, car­ry­ing mi­grants out of overcrowded Eng­land. “The fact she trav­elled with Henry in­di­cates a love match.” On board Maud played the pi­ano at church ser­vices and held op­eras. Maud took her dog Boxer, a good rat­ter.

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