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November 12, 2021


#Novella nr 3: NovNov – AusReadingMonth 2021

by NancyElin



  1. I started reading the complete works of Theas Astley during
  2. #AusReadingMonth in 2017
  3. …and have finished 13/17!
  4. Finally I found a copy of Beachmasters @
  5. That book is NOT easy to come by!
  6. Collected Short Stories (1997)
  7. ….also a very difficult or very expensive book to acquire!



  1. Girl with a Monkey (1958)
  2. A Descant for Gossips (1960)
  3. The Well Dressed Explorer (1962)                     Miles Franklin winner
  4. The Slow Natives (1965)                                    Miles Franklin winner
  5. Boat Load of Home Folk (1968)
  6. The Acolyte (1972)                                             Miles Franklin winner
  7. A Kindness Cup (1974)
  8. An Item from the Late News (1982)
  9. Beachmasters (1985) 
  10. It’s Raining in Mango (1987)
  11. Reaching Tin River (1990) 
  12. Vanishing Points (1992)
  13. Coda (1994)
  14. The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow (1996)  Miles Franklin long/shortlist
  15. Drylands (1999)                                           Miles Franklin winner

Short stories


Quick Scan:

  1. Coda examines the despair of old age.
  2. Thea Astley is a truth-teller about  becoming an “aged” misfit in society.
  3. Strong point: Ms Astley is still able to cut through
  4. …the tragedy with a sharp literary wit.
  5. Occasionally the narrative is interrupted by stories plucked from the
  6. Australian newspapers:
  7. “…there has been an alarming increase in so-called
  8. ...’granny-dumping’ throughout the country.” (Condamine Examiner, 16 Jan 1992)


Character:   Kathleen Hackendorf

  1. Born 1920s, no real ambition except get out of Townsville!
  2. We see her sitting in a tacky Mall at a plastic table under a fig tree
  3. drinking her coffee as she contemplates life and her grammatical losses:
  4. “I’m losing my nouns!”
  5. Daughter, Shamrock, wants her mother on a shelf like a cracked doodad.
  6. Son, Brian, a financial schemer in his second marriage has no time for his mother.
  7. Both have sold Kathleen’s house out from under her and put down the dog.
  8. BFF …Kathleen at least has her dotty dear friend Daisy
  9. Only trouble is ….Daisy is dead.



  1. I hope I’ve given you just a taste of
  2. …what you can expect in this book.
  3. Read as Kathleen wonders when the buzz went out of her she is
  4. “…rooting about for words in the old handbag of her years.” (pg 188)
  5. Weak point: I found the pages devoted to Brian’s
  6. “crackpot stratagems” (pg 106) too long.
  7. It ruined the mood of the story about the aging Kathleen!
  8. Weak point: In the end, expected some fireworks from Ms Astley
  9. …but Kathleen’s life story seemed to just fizzle out.
  10. Again, I am a fan of Thea Astley and find that some of her
  11. later books lack the punch of  her best books
  12. The Slow Natives, The Acolyte, Boat Load of Home Folk and
  13. A Descant for Gossips.
  14. #MildlyDisappointed
5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 13 2021

    A shame you were disappointed by this one. I thought it was very true to life.

    • Nov 13 2021

      I agree, the insults of old age are nicely described
      but felt there was too much focus on the shifty, underhanded son, Brian.
      Kathleen does sail into the sunset on a ferry to a beloved island…but
      I know Thea Astley has a lot more to say about ageing.
      Kathleen felt like a loose thread
      …but Ms Astley did not unravel the entire cardigan of her thoughts.
      Thanks for you comment, I appreciate it.

      • Nov 13 2021

        Alas, Nancy, the elderly would do well to be on the lookout for shifty, underhanded offspring. Elder financial abuse is becoming widespread among young people who think they are entitled to their parents’ money and aren’t prepared to wait for the parent to die. I think it’s utterly contemptible.

  2. Nov 13 2021

    Lisa, I have just a few more books to read by Thea Astley
    …the most difficult to acquire here in Beachmasters…but it is on its way to me!

  3. Dec 1 2021

    Hi Nancy, I have Coda, and nearly reviewed it this month, but ended up going with Reaching Tin River. Astley is a clever, passionate writer. I also have Collected Stories, bought at random second hand I suppose.


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