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And We’re Off: Australia Reading Month Gets Underway

3 favourite Australian novels

AusReading Month, hosted by Brona @Brona’s Books, is now in its eighth year but this is the first time I’ve participated.

Brona has chosen the themes of Celebration, Anticipation and Promotion for this year’s event. We kick off by celebrating the Australian books read so far this year. Which for me is going to be a very muted celebration since my tally of books by Australian authors this year stands at 0. Yep that’s right: zero, nada, null.

It’s my worst showing in five years.

Not that I’ve ever read very much Australian literature in the past – usually just two or three titles per year – but even that’s better than this year’s miserable performance. Hence why I decided to join the AusReading Month: I need a good old Aussie kick up the rear end!

In the absence of a reading list from which to highlight favourites this year, I thought I’d just share three from recent years.

Shell by Kristina Olsson

I don’t understand how this book hasn’t had more attention and accolades. Set against the background of construction of the Sydney Opera House, it’s a lyrical novel featuring two fragile people whose lives converge. One is a glassmaker from Sweden commissioned to create an artwork for the opera house; the other is a journalist strongly opposed (for personal reasons) to the war in Vietnam into which Australia is being dragged. I would never have known about this book if it hadn’t been highlighted by Lisa @ANZlitlovers

The Sugar Mother by Elizabeth Jolly

A deceptive novel that contains unsettling elements beneath the facade of comedy. It concerns Edwin, a middle-aged professor who is obsessed about his health. When his (younger) wife takes off for a fellowship abroad she thinks she has left him in the care of their sensible friends. But she hadn’t bargained on a new neighbour who moves in next door with her 20 year-old daughter, and gets her claws into Edwin tout suite.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

This is a thought provoking novel set in a period when the country we now know as Australia saw an influx of white settlers. The plot focuses on a convict who gains his freedom and wants to cultivate his own piece of land to provide for his family. Through this, Grenville explores the clash between Aboriginal people who already live in New South Wales and consider the land to be theirs, and the incomers who want to take it away.

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