Category Archives: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017: Roundup

Well, it’s close enough to the end of the year to do my Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017 Round-up. Looking through my reviews, I’m surprised how little Australian fiction I read this year. I’m acting as the Rounder-Upper-er for the History, Memoir and Biography genre on the AWWC site and I read much more in that genre. Perhaps a sense of obligation, or perhaps it just reflects my interests.  Here are my reviews for 2017:

FICTION

Barbara Baynton  Bush Studies

Jennifer Livett  Wild Island

Amanda Lohrey The Philosopher’s Doll

Emily Maguire  An Isolated Incident

Kirsten Tranter  The Legacy

Josephine Wilson Extinctions

NONFICTION

Kate Auty and Lynette Russell  Hunt Them, Hang Them

Jeannine Baker  Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam

Jill Barnard  Jetties and Piers: A background history of maritime infrastructure in Australia

Georgia Blaine  Births, Deaths, Marriages: True Tales

Janette Bomford  That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman: Vida Goldstein

Bernadette Brennan  A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work

Noeline Brown  Living in the 1960s

Anna Clark  The Catch: The Story of Fishing in Australia

Verna Coleman   Adela Pankhurst: The Wayward Suffragette

Kerrie Dawson  A Wife’s Heart: The Untold Story of Bertha and Henry Lawson

Jennifer Gall  Looking for Rose Paterson: How Family Bush Life Nurtured Banjo the Poet

Kate Grenville  The Case Against Fragrance

Ann McGrath  Illicit Love: Interracial Sex and Marriage in the United States and Australia

Anisa Puri  Australian Lives: An Intimate History

Olivera Simic  Surviving Peace: a Political Memoir

Leonie Stevens  Me Write Myself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Adela Pankhurst: The Wayward Suffragette’ by Verna Coleman

wayward_suffragette

1996, 176 p.

As I might have mentioned once or twice, I’ve been involved in a street opera project called Serenading Adela. This event commemorates the centenary of the march of about 300 women to Pentridge Prison on 7 January 1918 to sing songs to anti-war activist Adela Pankhurst, who was imprisoned there on charges arising from a speech given on the steps of Parliament House the previous year.  The Pankhursts were a well-known family involved in the fight for women’s suffrage in Britain, but Adela’s political history went beyond that in Australia.  She had been sent to Australia by her mother Emmaline in 1914 on a one-way ticket with twenty pounds, some woolen clothing and an introduction to Vida Goldstein, whom the Pankhursts had befriended back in 1911.

In Australia Adela Pankhurst was well-known  as a speaker against war and conscription, a member of the Victorian Socialist Party and a foundation member of the Communist Party of Australia. From that she moved to the Australian Women’s Guild of Empire, and from there to the far-right Australia First movement.  She was interned following the bombing of Pearl Harbour. for her pro-Japanese sympathies in World War II.  While this shift from the extreme left to the extreme right is not uncommon, it does seem bewildering.  Lives are rarely lived randomly, and biographers look for a unifying thread, some continuity in world-view that makes sense to their subject, no matter how inchoate it may look from the outside.  So how does Verna Coleman characterize Adela Pankhurst?

A clue can be found in the subtitle: “the wayward suffragette”. The first third of this book deals with Adela’s life in England, as part of an intellectual, politicized family dominated by her mother Emmeline and her eldest daughter Christabel.  According to Coleman, Adela became increasingly uncomfortable with the militancy, violence and extreme feminism of the suffragette campaign, even though she herself was involved as speaker and activist. After a physical and emotional breakdown, and ensnared within the jealousies of her sisters, Adela left the suffragette battlefield and acquiesced to her mother’s demand that she not speak in public in Britain again, and agreed to go to Australia instead- just about as far away as she could get.

Adela arrived in Melbourne in March 1914 and was immediately welcomed by Australian suffragists.  She spoke out as a pacifist right from the start of the war, and sympathized with Germany as the underdog dominated by Britain and France (p.63)- a rather dangerous stance at the time. She was welcomed into the pacifist socialist group that was drawn to editor of the Socialist, Robert Ross; a group which included Bernard O’Dowd, Jack Cain, John Curtin and unionist Tom Walsh.  Pankhurst was to marry Tom Walsh, and together they moved politically across the spectrum from communist to anti-communist. It is rather galling to see that Adela’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography is shared with her husband Tom Walsh, with his lifestory told first. One would have thought that she deserved a stand-alone analysis.

Many of the chapters of the book- but not all- start with a fictionalized, italicized word-picture of Adela. It’s an interesting touch, and I was disappointed that it was not sustained throughout the text. Coleman draws on Adela’s own autobiographical writing, letters in the Pankhurst-Walsh and David Mitchell archives, and newspaper articles.

Coleman’s book traces Pankhurst-Walsh’s  philosophical and political shifts, but although she recounts the trajectory, she does not very well explain it.  Analysis comes in a short chapter near the end of the book titled ‘Renegade, ratbag…or romantic enthusiast?’ In these few pages, she suggests that perhaps Adela tried to recapture the romantic fervour of her youth, constantly needing excitement as she shifted from one cause to another.  “Like many a reformer”, Coleman states “Adela was driven by egotism as well as by altruism”.  However, the adjective “wayward” in the title seems infantalizing and I don’t think that it does Pankhurst justice as a political actor in her own right.

In an article in Australian Historical Studies (25, 100 p.422-436) from 2008 called ‘The Enthusiasms of Adela Pankhurst Walsh’ Joy Damousi does a better job, I think, of detecting a coherent thread throughout Pankhurst-Walsh’s political journey. It was concern for children growing up in slum conditions, Damousi suggests, a concern that could be just as easily  (indeed, more) accommodated  in the politics of the right as of the left.  Once I read Damousi’s article, I saw that Coleman has in fact referenced this abiding passion of Pankhurst’s throughout. But by characterizing her as the ‘wayward suffragette’, Coleman highlights her deficits as a ‘wayward’ Pankhurst daughter rather than as a thinker of agency with a continuity of passion that took her from one extreme of the political spectrum to the other.

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This will be my final review for 2017 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge.  I’ll be back in 2018 to start the challenge all over again.

‘That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman: Vida Goldstein’ by Janette M. Bomford

Bomford

1993, 226 p & notes.

Vida Goldstein is remembered as a suffragist, social reformer and pacifist. The picture on the front Bomford’s biography encapsulates what we tend to think of as the quintessential first-wave feminist, in her Edwardian clothing and earnest demeanour. It’s a photograph of Vida Goldstein, taken by T. Humphrey and Co Photographers, holding a placard dated 28 June 1912 about the English suffragist campaign. At this time, Vida Goldstein would stand in the Melbourne streets – a shocking sight- posters pinned to her skirt, selling the newspaper ‘Votes for Women’ and her own  ‘Woman Voter’ publication.

Vida Goldstein selling Votes for Women newspaper.

Vida Goldstein selling “Votes for Women” newspaper. State Library of Victoria, Maurice Blackburn, Papers, MS 11749, http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/360742

Vida Goldstein’s internationalism was just one aspect of her life that Janette Bomford highlights for us in this biography. At a time when women elsewhere in the Empire were still fighting for the right to vote, New Zealand and Australian women (who received the vote in 1893 and 1902 respectively) were feted in suffragist circles as an example of the new world to come (similar I suppose, to the way that Irish pro-marriage equality campaigners have advised during the current wrong-headed same-sex marriage ‘survey’).  She travelled to America as Australian delegate to the International Woman Suffrage Conference Fed 1902, aged 32 and was the delegate from the NSW chapter of National Council of Women to the Conference of International Council of Women, held immediately afterwards. She was elected Secretary to the International Woman Suffrage Committee,  serving alongside the 82 year old American feminist Susan B. Anthony who was President. While in America she undertook research into youth justice and criminology, two interests that she was to pursue throughout her life.

Nearly ten years later Vida Goldstein travelled to England in 1911 as a guest of the Pankhursts and the Womens Social and Political Union, spoke to 10,000 people in the Albert Hall and organized a contingent of ‘overseas’ women in the Great Suffrage Procession in June 1911. As Bomford points out, her contact with the most eminent suffrage workers in the United States and Britain brought her a sense of sisterhood and camaraderie that she never quite felt in Australia (p.219)

Goldstein’s commitment to women as voters and politicians in their own right dominated much of her public career. Born in 1869 in Portland Victoria, her mother had been involved in the Victorian Womens Suffrage Society in 1884, and young Vida cut her teeth as a committee member and organizer with the United Council for Women’s Suffrage and the Women’s Federal Political Association.  It was this last group, later renamed the Women’s Political Association that proclaimed itself to be unaligned to any political party, a stance which probably cost Goldstein electoral support in her three attempts to stand for the Senate as a Victorian representative, and two attempts at the House of Representatives seat of Kooyong.  She was the first woman in the Empire to stand for political office, even though she was never successful.  During the election held between the two Conscription referenda in 1916 and 1917, she was accused (with good reason) of splitting the anti-conscription vote, even though she was herself an ardent pacifist.

Her commitment to pacifism split the Women’s Political Association in the early years of the war, when there was strong support generally for Australia’s involvement. It led her to split with the Pankhursts in England, despite her involvement in the suffrage campaign there  less than five years earlier. It brought her into the spotlight of public attention as she campaigned with the Women’s Peace Army, of which she was a founding and highly visible member (I’m sure that her selection of the same initials as the Women’s Political Association was no accident- and it made taking notes on this book a nightmare!) She was mainstream middle-class, stylishly dressed  and a very capable public speaker, and she spearheaded the ‘No’ case during the Conscription referendum campaigns.

In many ways, the different aspects of her political life often clashed up against each other: the support for militant suffragism and yet strong pacifism; her determination not to align herself with a political party, even though it hurt the left of politics to which she more naturally leaned. As Bomford explains, she was a strong but inflexible character. Her parents had given her a good education, first at home with a very capable governess, and then at PLC. However, in a foretaste of what was to come, the family split over the issue of women’s suffrage when her parents publicly took diametrically opposed views. Through her parents, she became involved in the Charity Organisation Society of which they were founding members, which took a ‘case study’ and causal approach to poverty, and championed dignity in work rather than handouts to ‘deserving’ cases as practised by the Ladies Benevolent Society.  It was to her family that she looked for emotional sustenance, living with her sisters and brother-in-law in South Yarra for the last thirty years of her life.  Despite her name (which she always pronounced with ‘eye’ in both her first and surnames) she was not Jewish. Her religious and spiritual life was nurtured through Rev Charles Strong’s ministry first at Scots Presbyterian and then the Australia Church, and increasingly through Christian Science, to which she devoted her passion post WWI.

As Bomford explains, with Vida Goldstein there is no cache of personal papers for the biographer to mine. Fortunately, her correspondents often did keep her letters, most particularly her friend Stella Miles Franklin.  As a result, Bomford has had to rely on newspaper reports, Vida’s own writing in her various newspapers and speeches, and the reports of the government censors and security organizations. The constraints of material have constrained Bomford to write mainly of Goldstein as a public figure.  Nonetheless, I think that Bomford does a good job in giving an internal logic and unity to Goldstein’s politics, even though her inflexibility so often worked against the causes she believed in, and cost her many allies.

This is an academic text, with quite a few initials for organizations, which is just as much part of the territory in discussing political activism today as it was at the turn of the twentieth century.  It takes a strictly chronological approach, and most of the character analysis takes place in the ‘Afterword’ that closes the book.  It is probably not widely available today, given the ferocious culling of texts in libraries and short shelf-life of books in bookshops, but Vida herself has taken on even more prominence with the recent interest in the conscription debates of WWI and the toxic politics around Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership.  ABC’s Hindsight program had an excellent episode about her in 2009 which is available as podcast and transcript here . Claire Wright also discusses Vida on a Podcast from La Trobe University’s Biography series available at https://player.fm/series/biography/vida-goldstein  (the text is similar to Wright’s entry on Goldstein at the Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia).  She also wrote a very good essay ‘Birth of a Nation?’ in Griffith Review 51 available here.

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I have posted this review to the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Australian Lives: An Intimate History’ by Anisa Puri and Alistair Thomson

thompson_puri

2017, 425 p.

It’s hard to know how to review this book and, indeed, it was hard to know quite how to read it, too. It is the print-based outcome of the Australian Generations Oral History Project, a collaboration between historians at Monash and La Trobe Universities, the National Library of Australia and ABC Radio National. It has been well-mined by the various partners, with the ABC producing five episodes on their much-missed Hindsight program and a rich page produced on Monash University’s Arts Online portal.  Much of the base material can be accessed through the National Library of Australia site, where by accessing the ‘Related Records’ field of the catalogue entry, you can listen to the original oral histories and read the entire transcripts, subject to the access conditions stipulated by each interviewee.

So why then would you bother to read the book, if it’s all online? Well, apart from the portability of a book, the 300 life histories produced as part of the project have been curated here into a more manageable 50, all of which have permissions allowing access to the sound file and transcript now (rather than at some future date) on the NLA site. They are arranged in chapters of two types. The first type are life course chapters (Ancestry, Childhood, Youth, Midlife and Laterlife) and the other chapters are thematic (Faith, Migrants, Activism and Telling My Story). Within each chapter, there are further subdivisions that group oral histories by topic.

There is a chronological spread of interviewees, spanning from one born in  1923 through to participants born in 1989. There are indigenous respondents, Australian-born respondents and participants from many other places: Bosnia, Batavia, Cairo, Malta and Sudan.

The interviews are arranged chronologically within each chapter, but it’s not always the same subject.  It is possible to follow through the same character by looking them up in the Narrator Index, where there is a very brief synopsis of the character and a list of the pages of the book where you can find their interviews. However, I read the book straight through, in the order in which it is published. At first I wondered how I was going to keep all these people straight, but fortunately each extract has a small italicized prompt, providing brief contextualizing information.

Each chapter starts with an overview, written by the authors, which provides a twentieth-century historical context and points towards the salient contributions in the interviews.  I enjoyed these as a way of giving shape to the volume.  Alistair Thomson is well-known as one of Australia’s pre-eminent oral historians, and Anisa Puri is President of Oral History NSW and a PhD candidate.  In the acknowledgements you can see the wide range of historians who have participated in the project.

If you’re the sort of person who likes listening to people tell their stories, then this book may well appeal. It’s the sort of book that you can pick up and put down quite easily. There is no overarching argument, beyond the diversity and uniqueness of each person’s story and the  interactions between individuals and society.  This comes through the extracts that they have selected:

…we selected extracts that illuminate change and continuity and how individuals lived with and against the economic forces, cultural expectations and legal constraints of their times.  We also chose extracts that highlight how different types of Australians – male or female, city or country, poor or prosperous – have managed their lives and faced distinctive challenges and opportunities.  And, of course, we picked stories that evoke the humour, drama and pathos of human life. (p.xii)

Sourced from : Yarra Plenty Regional Library

 

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I have recorded this on the Australian Women Writers Challenge website.

 

 

‘Living the 1960s’ by Noeline Brown

living-the-1960s

2017, 177 p. NLA Publishing

In choosing Noeline Brown to write this book, the NLA was obviously going for popular culture and a dry sense of humour- and they got it. I can remember Noeline Brown in the Mavis Bramston show : indeed, she was Mavis Bramston in the pilot and first five shows. When she went off to England (as most 1960s show business and music people did) she was  replaced by Maggie Dence who became better known as the face (and hat) of Mavis Bramston.

I must confess that this slap-stick style of humour doesn’t really appeal to me, and Noeline Brown’s career, most of which was on commercial television, mostly passed me by.  I remember her in Gough Whitlam’s ‘It’s Time’ advertisement and I was aware of her in the support that she gave to Graeme Kennedy as his health failed. She has been an Ambassador for the Aging, and recently received a lifetime achievement award from Actors Equity.

There are eight chapters in the book: politics, the arts, music, fashion, family life, our town, women and sport. The text is conversational in tone, and interweaves  Brown’s own personal anecdotes between snippets of information.  It’s largely a young-person-at-the-time’s guide to the social life of the 1960s, and as might be expected from a stage and television personality, very much based in the realm of music and the popular arts.  It’s a very light touch, with no theoretical framework or bibliography at all. It’s an easy and undemanding read and the sort of book that can be picked up for a chapter or two, then put down.

The book is generously illustrated with images from the National Library’s collection, and includes political ephemera, photographs by Rennie Ellis and Wolfgang Seivers, and magazine advertisements and photographs ( drawn most particularly The Australian Women’s Weekly). The layout is beautiful, as is the case with most NLA books. There are small breakout boxes of timelines and facts, and page-length featured topics, but the photographs do most of the work. It focuses mainly on Sydney and Melbourne, is probably more focused towards women, and rural life is barely touched at all.

The book, with Brown’s narrative as voice-over, felt very much like a back-to-the-sixties television documentary, full of nostalgia and wry amusement.

Source: NLA publishing review copy through Quikmark Media

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I have posted this review to the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge site.

[P.S.  A little plug for something close to my heart:  If you’re interested in local history of the ’60s in Melbourne, and if it’s still November 2017, why not visit Heidelberg Historical Society’s ‘Remembering ’67’ exhibition? It’s open on Sundays 2p.m. – 5.p.m on 12th, 19th, 26th November at the Heidelberg Historical Society Museum, Jika St Heidelberg, entry $5.00]

 

 

 

‘The Philosopher’s Doll’ by Amanda Lohrey

Lohrey_Philosopher

2004, 306 p

It’s a strange thing, re-reading a book. You’re not the same reader that you were the first time and the context in which you’re reading the book is often very different. I read Amanda Lohrey’s The Philosopher’s Doll soon after it was released back in 2004, straight after reading two big, fat books: The Sotweed Factor and Tristam Shandy. At the time I leapt on it because it was local, domestic and female in comparison to the two hefty tomes that preceded it. Now, twelve years later I’m reading it again, this time for my face-to-face bookgroup. I didn’t view it quite as kindly the second time round.

The book is set in Northcote  with social worker Kirsten trying to summon up the courage to tell her husband Lindsay about her pregnancy. Lindsay does not want children, (or at least, not yet) and Kirsten is aware that she has fallen pregnant in benignly deceptive circumstances. Her philosophy lecturer husband Lindsay, on the other hand, thinks that all she needs is a dog to settle her maternal urges and so he embarks on a secret plan to buy a pure-bred Chow, a breed whose aloofness appeals to him. The dog is not Lindsay’s only secret: he is also receiving letters from an infatuated doctoral student, Sonia,  that he just puts away for now, not telling anyone about them.

The book is presented in four parts, and this part of the storyline plays out in the first two parts over a matter of several weeks. It is told in the third-person present tense (a tense that I don’t enjoy much) and the two perspectives are interwoven. Then, abruptly, in the third section, the infatuated student Sonia is speaking in the first person, past tense, some ten or more years after the events first part of the book.  Things have changed, and we see them in their new form, but not how they arrived at that point. Coincidences may be more planned than they appear, some mistakes are replicated and new ways of being are learned and embraced.

This is a very Melbourne book, and as a resident of the northern suburbs, I could pinpoint almost to the street – James Street, Northcote do you reckon?- where Kirsten and Lindsay lived. In this regard, the book has Garnesque features, but it is burdened with a didactism that you don’t find in Garner’s work. Lindsay’s occupation as philosophy lecturer gives scope for digressions into the emotional capacities of humans v. animals, and the question of the rhetorics of the heart. The final section of the book launches into a discussion of stunt -no – precision flying that almost sinks the book, if the lengthy retelling of dreams hasn’t already done so.

Does the book need all this philosophy trowelled onto it? I tend to think not. I felt a little betrayed as a reader by the abrupt change half way through, and as if I were sitting through a boring, one-sided conversation in the philosophical parts.

Reading back on the review that I wrote on this book back in 2004 (before I started this blog), I didn’t mention any of these criticisms. Did I just read it as a Melbourne-based story, and did I skip the philosophy? Or did I enjoy the philosophy perhaps?  Have I changed since then? Or am I more conscious of Lohrey’s earnest spiritual intentions in writing now after reading A Short History of Richard Klein, which I found even more didactic than this book?

Sourced from: C.A.E. Bookgroup

Rating: 6.5/10

aww2017-badge I have posted this review to the Australian Women Writers Challenge site.

‘The Catch: The Story of Fishing in Australia’ by Anna Clark

clark_thecatch

2017, NLA Publishing, 145 p.

In a beautifully presented book, the “story” (but really, the “history”) of Australian fishing is told by historian and fellow fishing enthusiast, Anna Clark. This shared love of fishing permeates the text of this  book, not just in the “we” language that Clark deploys, but also in the carefully crafted ‘fisher’s-eye’ paragraphs that commence each chapter. Here, for example, is the start to the chapter ‘Early Industry’ that takes us right into the boat with a single fisherman in his small boat:

The boat glides out of Albany and sails across the sheltered waters of Princess Royal Harbour. A breeze skims across the bay and fills the sails- just enough to push the little boat along into the incoming tide to set the nets.  There’s plenty to catch here, and the fisherman fills his woven baskets with herring, whiting and bream, with a few skipjack and pike thrown in for good measure.  But there’s not much point chasing the big hauls, since the fish go putrid after a day or two ashore- and anything left over has to be buried. (p 49)

Or here we are on a modern commercial fleet ship:

The engine’s running and its gentle throb can be felt through the humming deck. Filleting knives are neatly lined up by the cutting boards near the ship’s bow, someone’s hosing off the blood from this morning’s catch and there’s a constant and slightly unpleasant smell of fish.  In the centre of the deck is a little hatch with a lid. Inside, a steel ladder drops down to the icy hold below. It’s dark and filled to the brim with neatly stacked ten-kilogram boxes of fish fillets, snap frozen by the boat’s powerful compressor. They sit waiting to be unloaded and taken away by refrigerated truck to the city’s markets. (p.97)

As well as capturing the tone of the narrative, these two opening paragraphs encapsulate many of the themes of the book: the joy of fishing, the deceptive abundance of fish, the problem of wastage and storage and the effects of technological change.

Published by the National Library of Australia, this lavishly illustrated book shares the high production values of its other volumes, and draws generously on the holdings of the library in photographs, maps and diagrams.

The book starts with indigenous fishing, which was described at length by Cook and Banks to illustrate the abundance of the eastern coast, and which was captured in many of the early drawings and paintings of New South Wales.  The amputation of the pinky finger on Eora fishergirls made it easier to use a line for fishing. It attracted the attention of these early commentators and was clearly shown in convict artist Thomas Watling’s drawing of Dirr-a-goa in the 1790s, while the term for the amputation, “Mal-gun”, was noted in William Dawes’ notebook of translations of Eora words.   However, as Clark notes:

While early colonial sketches and paintings give wonderful snapshots of Indigenous fishers, they do so from a distinctly European perspective.  Written accounts are similarly revealing – and we should be grateful for the faithful record of fishing practices and winning catches they’ve produced- but we can’t forget that these early settlers viewed Indigenous society through a distinctly colonial lens. (p. 17)

Indigenous perspectives on fishing come through the presence of scar trees where bark has been excised to build canoes, the remnant fish traps in rivers, shell middens and through indigenous carvings and paintings of fish.  This indigenous perspective is not relegated to the obligatory opening chapter, but instead continues through the book, with the continuation of fishing at riverside and coastal Aboriginal missions and Traditional Owners claims on traditional fisheries.  As she points out, fishing participation rates among in the Indigenous population sit as high as 92% in some communities, and it is an integral part of connection to country and cultural knowledge. (p. 132)

The abundance of fishing was reported by Captain Cook, and the First Fleet was well equipped to take advantage of it. However, Governor Phillip was less effusive, reporting that some days the fish were there- other days not. The photographs in the book – taken specifically to celebrate the size  of the catch – highlight abundance, but the text tells another story as fishing grounds are fished out and one species of fish collapses after another.

Another theme is the ongoing contest between competing interests. Colonial gentlemen craved the manly sport of fly-fishing and introduced European species into Australians waters with sometimes catastrophic results. (I knew about the European carp, but to be honest, I didn’t realize that the trout was an introduced fish- shows how little I know!) The government supported the establishment of commercial fisheries and the storage and infrastructure requirements to transport fish to lucrative markets, but in response to political pressure, it has more recently championed recreational fishing and set aside no-go zones to increase stock numbers. The emergence of Senators representing recreational fishing interests is likely to keep this political contest alive.

I did find myself wondering who this book is aimed at.  Its appearance just prior to Christmas is, I’m sure, well-planned. Its copious and beautiful illustrations mark it out as a coffee-table book, but the text ranges beyond the ‘whoa! look at that!’ response to a photograph of a big fish. Its author, Anna Clark, is well known in academic circles for her work on public history and history teaching and she brings to the book an awareness of sources and a keen sense of finding history in the everyday.  Most importantly, she brings her own love of fishing to the text, and I think that this is what fishers will respond most to in this book.

Sourced from: Review copy from Quikmark Media and N.L.A.

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I’ve included this book in the Australian Women Writers Challenge.