Mrs M by Luke Slattery

Ali Mrs MThis is the story of  Mrs Elizabeth MacQuarie, second wife of Lachlan MacQuarie, reformist Governor of New South Wales. The novel starts in Scotland at the end of Elizabeth’s story, not the beginning as you might imagine. So the story is a reflection of her journey and life in the colony and the shared dream of reform that Lachlan and Elizabeth planned when they came to Sydney.

This is a fictional account of historical figures and I am not sure of the reality of Elizabeth’s relationship with the architect who designed and built her famous ‘Chair’ at Sydney harbour. In the book her much older husband is often busy and distracted giving the younger  architect the appeal that makes this story  both romantic and intriguing. However there are personalities who wish to continue the brutal control that has been the norm of the colony , contradictory to the MacQuarie’s more benign influences which ultimately causes the downfall of the MacQuarie reign in the colonies.

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Thornwood House by Anna Romer

Cynthia Thornwood houseA good Australian historical / rural / romance / mystery story, all elements I love in a story. The story kept me interested throughout. I liked that the author presented the past through diary entries and letters – a different, but fitting way to tell the story.

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Stephanie Alexander’s kitchen garden companion : cooking by Stephanie Alexander

Ali StephanieStephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Cooking is a handy book when you have an excess of produce from the garden! If you still have some pumpkins left, this is a great spring recipe. Very tasty it was too! It’s so easy to Google recipes these days but it is nice to sit and drool over a lovely recipe book which this is. This is the perfect book for using up the excess seasonal produce.

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Amy GoldstoneAnother beautiful, sad, complex and moving film about Indigenous policeman, Jay Swan, solving a mystery in an outback town. Jay Swan, burdened with grief, is struggling to keep himself together as he searches for a missing girl, and meaning for his life. The cast is stellar, the scenery is stunning, and the story is about human trafficking, land rights, racism, corruption, and a place to belong.

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The lost dog by Michelle de Kretser

Amy The Lost DogAn English lecturer, Tom, is staying in the Victorian bush, trying to finish the book he is writing, when his dog goes missing. From that starting point we go back and forth, to India and Melbourne, to the past and the present, exploring Tom’s life and relationships. There is mystery, but it’s not about what happens, but about place, love, relationships with parents and lovers, art, poetry, and belonging. The language is beautiful, and it’s full of thoughtful insights on things like ageing, and consumerism.

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Mystery Road

Amy Mystery RoadThis is the movie that came before the television series. Having recently watched the television series, I was keen to find out Jay Swan’s back story. Recently returned to his home town after time in the big city, Jay doesn’t fit in with the other policemen, all white, or his own community. He is estranged from his wife and daughter, and seems to be the only one who cares about the murder of a young black girl. The cinematography is striking, capturing the starkly beautiful countryside. The story is bleak and violent, but the film is somehow quiet and contemplative, reflecting the complexity of the issues that face outback towns and Australia as a whole. The mystery itself may not be neatly tied up at the end, but the performances and thoughtful story make it a very satisfying film.

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Border districts by Gerald Murnane

Amy Border DistrictsAn older man makes his last move, from a capital city (not named, but Melbourne) to a small town on the border, and ponders. This short book is a report of his thoughts; reflections on light and mental images, with lots of references to coloured glass, being Catholic, and horse racing. There is little emotion, some coherence and no actual plot, so it was just some quality in the writing that kept me going.

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The lost flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Cynthia Lost Flowers of Alice HartThis story was full of sadness and beauty. Australia’s landscape is told in beautiful detail which balances out the horor of abuse. Characters are either running from their story or embracing it. The language of native flowers are used to great effect, used in the introduction of each chapter, matching Alice’s story. It was easy to become involved in the story and Alice’s journey.

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