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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Yourview@ theaus­

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.

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