News & views
THE reissue of Madeleine St John’s novel (‘‘Navigating a river of sadness’’, June 15-16) is well-timed: Helen Trinca’s fine biography of the author is now available, and should be read first by those who are not familiar with St John’s delicate oeuvre. Like Christina Stead and Shirley Hazzard, St John endured an emotionally fraught early life. She was impelled to escape from her overbearing father, who was as gravely affected as St John herself by the suicide of his first wife, St John’s mother. The self-protective waspishness that became so much a part of their daughter’s character infused her work with an astringency worthy of Jane Austen. And, once again, we must lay claim to an Australian writer whose creative years were spent beyond our shores.