Finishing the Australian Women Writers Reading Challenge 2012

I decided to embrace the challenge wholeheartedly, and choose the option of reading ten books and giving a lengthy review of four. As I have some free time, I reviewed rather more. A list of links is below.

The books I tried to finish were:

  1. A river not yet tamed, by Nancy Cato. (Lengthy review)
  2. Cocaine blues, by Kerry Greenwood (Book club discussion questions)
  3. The Magicians Guild, by Tracy Cavanagh (Gave it up after chapter 7, review at the tail end of this post)
  4. The County Cookbook, by Belinda Jeffrey (Lengthy review).
  5. The Autumn Castle, by Kim Wilkins (Lengthy review)
  6. My Country and other poems by Dorothea Mackellar (Lengthy Review)
  7. Great Australian Women by Susanna de Vries (Lengthy Review)
  8. Who Killed Angelique by Emma Darcy (Brief review)
  9. The Dawn by Louisa Lawson (Lengthy Review)
  10. Goodnight, mice! by Judy Watson (Brief review in my December journal post, coming up in January 2013.)
  11. Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel C. Pedley (Discussion questions coming up in a later post).

Links to the various books are in the reviews, except Dot and the Kangaroo. The Library
Service doesn’t have a copy of this, but it’s available from Project Gutenberg in various formats. Here’s the html.

Planned and borrowed, but not read.

  1. First Australians: An Illustrated History by Rachel Perkins and Marcia Langton
  2. First man of Rome, by Colleen McCullogh.

I decided to chose authors whom I had not read before. I didn’t stick to that perfectly, because it’s all but impossible to grow up in Australia and not read some of Dorothea Mackellar’s verse. I also think I read The thorn birds when I was a child. I didn’t want to just read a series by an author, so there are no repeated authors.

What I wenjoyed most about this challenge is the way it made me move some things which had been sitting at the mid-level in my “to be read” list up to the top.  I’ve been meaning to read The Dawn, Cocaine blues and All the rivers run (Which starts with  A river not yet tamed) for a few years now. Now, I didn’t particularly enjoy the later two, but the challenge was great in getting me to put aside things I’d just become aware of, and instead get stuck into the midlist which I’d been keeping around forever.

In terms of the fiction, I don’t think I heard a distinctly Australian, female writer “voice”, so I don’t think that for me, the writer being Australian and female is necessarily an appeal factor for me, in the same way that “books with magic in them” for example, is an appeal factor. In the non-fiction, though, I really enjoyed the works, and I thought the authors captured the experience of Australian women, at their time and in their various economic stations, really clearly. I’ll probably read similar things in future, although I’ve discovered I far prefer urban, historical, Australian, Female writers to rural ones.

I’ll be back for Challenge 2013, although I’ll be breaking my rules on rereading authors, and I’ll try more modern books.  Also, I may drop back from 10 to 6, which I know I can comfortably complete. Kirsty over at Reading Sheilas is recording Mary Fortune, and I’m quite keen to listen to that. I’d like to get through the two that I took out but didn’t get around to.  So that’s 3.  Add some Kylie Chan and I’m almost there, particularly if I read a couple.