Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Australian Authors’ Category


#AWW2019 Louise Mack



  1. In 1914 when war broke out Louise Mack was in Belgium
  2. where she continued to work as the first woman
  3. war correspondent for the
  4. Evening News and the London Daily Mail.
  5. This book is her eye-witness
  6. …account of the German invasion of Antwerp.
  7. 28 September – 10 October 1914 (1 week and 5 days)



  1. While I read to this book I had to think of
  2. …the difference between Marie Colvin (1956-2012)
  3. foreign affairs correspondent for the British newspaper
  4. The Sunday Times and Louise Mack (1870-1935).
  5. While the Zeppelin returns to attack Antwerp
  6. I read Louise Mack saying:
  7. “…I saw my powder puff. I saw my bag.”
  8. “…no slippers came under my fingers,
  9. and I wanted  slippers
  10. in case of going out into the streets.
  11. I must just accept that this book
  12. …was written more than 100 years ago.

Last thoughts:

  1. Weak point: choppy writing style.
  2. Strong point: The chapters 46-47 were of special
  3. interest for me (I live in Netherlands)
  4. They describe Louise Mack’s impression
  5. of the Dutch welcoming
  6. …Belgium refugees after the fall of Antwerp.
  7. Good eye-witness reporting.
  8. …but very outmoded.

#AWW2018: Chloe Hooper “The Tall Man”




  1. This is the story of Palm Island, the tropical paradise
  2. …where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman
  3. ….and forty-five minutes later lay dead in a police cell.
  4. This is also the story of that policeman Christopher Hurley
  5. …and of the struggle to bring him to trial.



  1. Chloe Hooper is asked to document
  2. ….the murder inquest that is about to begin.
  3. This book is a documentary with words.
  4. The author admits her ignorance about Palm Island  that
  5. could fill a book…and it did.
  6. Ms Hooper was curious if readers would feel the outrage
  7. about this terrible death.
  8. It takes place against a complicated backdrop
  9. ….that many people tended to look away from.
  10. Strong point: Ms Hooper uses factual language
  11. …to create emotion!
  12. Strong point: Clear and direct way of telling the human side of
  13. …the Doomadgee  case and its broader implications.
  14. Strong point: the book focuses on justice rather than crime.
  15. The narrative draws its power NOT from the human suffering
  16. …but from exposing the effects of decisions made around that suffering.
  17. #PageTurner


  • Trivia: …..look at this list of awards!
  1. Winner-  2009 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards – Douglas Stewart Prize
  2. Winner – 2009 Australian Book Industry Award – General Non-fiction
  3. Winner – 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards – Non-fiction
  4. Winner – 2009 The Indie Book of the Year Award – Non-fiction
  5. Winner – 2009 Queensland Premier’s Literary Prize
  6. Winner – 2009 Davitt Award – Best True Crime
  7. Winner – 2009 John Button Prize
  8. Winner – Victorian Premier’s Literary Award 2009
  9. Winner – 2009 Ned Kelly Award – Non-fiction
  10. Winner – 2008 Western Australia Premier’s Literary Awards – Book of the Year & Non-Fiction

#AWW 2018: Anita Heiss


Finished: 20.12.2018
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: B+



  1. All these stories are important.
  2. People are being  so open and
  3. …honest telling us
  4. what makes them be who they are.
  5. I took something from all these selections
  6. …but most of all I loved Marlee Silva.
  7. Her father used a great analogy
  8. …to explain to his young daughter
  9. what it means to be a product of two cultures.
  10. Her father poured two cups of black coffee
  11. …adds creamer to one of them.
  12. “ matter how much milk you add: they’ll never not be coffee.”
  13. Marlee uses this image as a shield to this day.
  14. This book was an eye-opening education
  15. …for me about
  16. growing up Aboriginal in Australia.
  17. #MustRead

#AWW2018 Alicia Sometimes (poet)



  1. This artist’s impression video shows how two tiny but very dense
  2. neutron stars merge via gravitational wave
  3. radiation and then explode as a kilonova.
  4. At its most basic, the gravitational wave discovery
  5. confirmed the existence of black holes, which is no mean feat.
  6. Thankfully, we have art – and poetry – to help us visualize
  7. ….what the discovery of gravitational waves will mean.
  8. Click HERE to watch the video ……and read the poem.
  9. You will be amazed how beautifully Alicia Sometimes
  10. …has explored the  connection between
  11. …science & poetry & visual art.



We are detectives
We eavesdrop

Billions of years ago
two neutron stars

circle each other
desperate and breathless

finishing their last
pressing conversation

Remnants of once intense lives
cascade into a final spiral
until they embrace

smashing platinum
and gold into existence

a violent coalescence
outshining at least 100 billion suns

their collided mass
propagating gravitational waves
across the fabric of space
at light speed

gamma rays detected
only a moment after

We were watching
We were listening

We saw them encompass
each other completely

with their final words
rippling right through us


Last thoughts:

You can enjoy this poem on many levels:

Video:  click HERE


  1. POV: first person plural, personal experiences
  2. We = scientists
  3. They = two neutron stars
  4. Personification:  two star-crossed lovers
  5. breathless
  6. having conversation
  7. they embrace
  8. with their final words…
  9. Form: Line length, stanza breaks, white space
  10. mirror the emotion annd rhythm of its content.
  11. Title: Kilonova – a star that suddenly becomes thousands of times brighter
  12. Vocabulary: the poet uses words found in scientific articles


Scientific back round:

What is the science used in this poem? –  gravitational waves

  1.  Astronomers detected particles being accelerated by a
  2. rapidly rotating neutron star as it passed by the massive star it orbits.


  1. Source of a gravitational wave, created by
  2. merger of two neutron stars observed for the first time.
  3. This merger created a kilonova that ejects
  4. heavy elements such as gold and platinum into space.



  1. First detection of a collision of two neutron stars
  2. This produced a gravitational wave and a a short gamma-ray burst.
  3. The ripples in spacetime are known as gravitational waves.
  4. Several teams of scientists have  managed to get
  5. the first observational proof for a kilonova.
  6. Of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy,
  7. less than 10 are known to be  this type of
  8. …massive star with a neutron star orbiting around it.


Alicia Sometimes


Clive James: poem ‘The River in the Sky’




  1. Genre: autobiographical epic poem
  2. Topic: meditation on aging…lost golden age…now inaccessible
  3. Tone:  We find Clive James in ill-health but high spirits
  4. ….clear impassioned wisdom alwys quietly carving sage words.
  5. Form: dramatic monologue (epic poem with Clive as the hero)
  6. Language: unadorned, forceful with many flyaway cultural observations
  7. …and allusions that should  be investigated!
  8. Trauma: Father’s death
  9. “I was there to watch my mother take the news.
  10. It still now deprives me of speech,”
  11. James said his life’s works “ springs from that one dreadful moment”.
  12. First line: “All is not lost….out past the journey’s edge.” (repeated line: 77)
  13. It is a reference to Milton’s poem Paradise Lost.


How did Clive James write this book?

  1. I think the writer sat in his kitchen/library and
  2. just starred at the walls
  3. ..his thoughts take us on an autobiographical journey.
  4. Books are beautiful.
  5. He compares his wall of books
  6. …to the painted colorful frescoes in a Pharaoh’s tomb.
  7. James mentions his daughters:
  8. “…of this tomb when you helped me weed my books”.
  9. These are the walls he sees first thing in the morning.
  10. It is a work of art, with all of the
  11. different size books and their color bindings.
  12. Clive James is a master at creating images:
  13. “.. (I am) ..but the living god (Pharaoh)
  14. in the departure lounge (tomb/kitchen-library) surrounded
  15. …by his glistering aftermath–. (books)


What does Clive James want to achieve in this book?

  1. James is dying….and he has know this for many years.
  2. He is: “Planning last strategies…employ these closing hours
  3. to write its seedlings down“. (seedlings of poetry)
  4. “This is a river song linking vivd foci where
  5. once my mind was formed that now must fall apart.”
  6. The turning point in the writer’s  life was
  7. the death of his father in a plane crash. (1945)
  8. The flight was to return this  prisoner of war WW II to his wife and son
  9. ….10 days after the war ended.
  10. We read “…strength ebbs from my limbs” but James wants to…
  11. “…my fragile treasures link together in review.”


What is the structure of the book?

  1. This is an epic poem with Clive James as the hero.
  2. He shifts constantly….from the ancient past with
  3. Egyptian, Greek mythology to his childhood
  4. …Jannali in the summer heat, Clifton  Gardens, Botany Bay;
  5. college days (dedicated book May Week was in June (1990)
  6. …to Tom Weiskel.…college friend who died;
  7. life in Australia with memories about
  8. Keith Miller  (cricket player, war pilot) and
  9. Kim Bonython (war pilot, lover of jazz, race cars and art)
  10. Darcy Dugan (Australian bank robber)
  11. and of course the Hill at the SCG, Sydney Cricket Ground.
  12. There are many overlaps  between
  13. …events and states as presented by the text.
  14. This requires some dedication from the reader
  15. to investigate items mentioned by Clive James.
  16. If you take the time to do this
  17. …it will enrich the reading experience.


What was the sentence(s) – image that impressed me the most?

  1. QUOTE:
  2. Gliding is what I do, here at the finish, in the final hour.”
  3. Note: This can also be a reference to the title
  4. The River in the Sky.
  5. The writer tells us he will be gliding…
  6. “in the star clusters, in the gulf between the galaxies.” (pg 4)
  7. IMAGE:
  8. Clive James  compares himself to the Sun Voyager.
  9. The Sun Voyager in Reykjavik Iceland was
  10. …essentially envisaged as being a dreamboat
  11. …an ode to the sun symbolizing light and hope.


  1. If you read this book be prepared to follow Clive James
  2. through a maze of memories.
  3. He backtracks, looks forward and stands still amazed that he is still alive!
  4. He’s danced the tango in  Rio with a beautiful blind woman.
  5. He’s met the love of his life while listening to Maria Callas
  6. He’s pampered by two beautiful daughters.
  7. James is a  poet and some of his insights took my breath away:
  8. “Time, it is thereby proven, is the sea 
  9. …whose artifacts are joined by separateness.”
  10. Strong point:  James shows us  his spirit of youth.
  11. Even in old age, and his  refusal to resign and face life passively.
  12. “If my ashes end up in an hour-glass….I can go on working.”
  13. Note: I’m reading this poem slowly, carefully line for line
  14. this my be the last time I can enjoy
  15. ….Clive James while he is still with us.
  16. I don’t want to read his books in grief…but in joy.
  17. #MustRead  
  18. #MustReflect





#AWW 2018 The Enigmatic Mr. Deakin



  1. This is a  book about the history, politics and philosophy
  2. of Australian liberals.
  3. It is Australian politics leading up to Deakin Government
  4. and his years as Prime Minister 1903-1908.
  5. As a brilliant speaker Deakin became one of the kind of people
  6. who are very good at playing the political game.
  7. Judtih Brett has done almost the impossible
  8. …make a shy, studious, religious man seem interesting.
  9. Remember this is not a literary biography but a political biography.
  10. It’s going to be full of elections, and policy making.
  11. So if you are not really interested in this topic
  12. ….the book will be a tough read.


Last thoughts:

  1. It is not easy to write a political biography
  2. It is not easy to condense an entire life into the form of a book
  3. …an interesting book.
  4. You have to find the right balance between
  5. historical fact and emotion to give the subject a pulse.
  6. I felt only a regular missed heartbeat.
  7. The author did not punch me with enough
  8. little details that make the character relatable.
  9. It is difficult to read the book you are writing
  10. as if you were the reader…instead of a writer.
  11. Perhaps that may have improved this book.



#AWW 2018 Atomic Thunder (NF)


Who is  Elizabeth Tynan?

  1. Elizabeth Tynan is a science writer and academic
  2. at the James Cook University  in Queensland, Australia.
  3. She completed a PhD on aspects of British nuclear testing in Australia.


What is Atomic Thunder about?

  1. Britain wanted to join the nuclear club.
  2. Britain needed Australia’s geographic assets (testing ground)
  3. …and its distance from the British electorate.
  4. Britain conducted three atomic explosions at
  5. the Monte Bello Islands off the coast of Western Australia
  6. …and nine at Maralinga and Emu.
  7. This book chronicles the scandals that ensued:
  8. 1950 Australian prime minister Robert Menzies
  9. agreed to atomic tests without informing his government
  10. the overall levels and distribution of radioactivity
  11. …that wreaked havoc on Indigenous communities
  12. …and turned the land into a radioactive wasteland
  13. the uncovering of the extensive secrecy around British testing
  14. This book is the most comprehensive account of the whole saga.
  15.  After the British departed they left an unholy mess behind.




Strong point:

  1. Mw Tynan shows in the last chapters
  2. the transformation Australia society has endured.
  3. What a difference a generation makes
  4. …layers of secrecy and inertia are lifted!
  5. Investigative journalists and media are not
  6. ….interested in comforting the powerful
  7. No more stonewalling….
  8. The people of Australia demand accountability!

Quote: pg 290

  • “Britain knew in the 1960’s that radioactivity at its former nucelar
  • test site in Australia was worse than first thought.
  • But it did not tell the Australians.

Quote: pg 300

  • Australia in the 1950s and early 1960s was essentially
  • ….an atomic banana republic
  • useful only for its resources…especially uranium and land.”
  • Chilling and selfish attitude of Britain
  • treating Australia as a lackey. Disgraceful


Last thoughts:

  1. The whole story is shocking but while I was reading
  2. chapter 9 Clean-ups and Cover-ups I  put my hands
  3. over my lips in absolute horror.
  4. Clean up crews were working 12-hr shifts scooping
  5. up topsoil that was liberally
  6. …dotted with plutonium-contaminated fragments.
  7. No-one says any thing about this to George Owen (British Army recruit).
  8. After 5 months working at Maralinga he is discharged.
  9. Soon after he notices strange growths on his hands.
  10. This is plutonium-239….
  11. 1 millionth of a gram may be sufficient to
  12. cause lung cancer if inhaled.
  13. How much dust did Owen inhale?
  14. Speechless….
  15. #MustRead
  16. PS…I read it in one day…could NOT put it own!






Short stories: Like a House on Fire



Flexionexcellent – great last sentence  – wife-husband relationship.

Ashes –  excellent – great last sentence –  son-mother and recently deceased father relationship.

Laminex and Mirrors wonderful….very funny yet touching.
Narrator is an 18 yr cleaning girl in hospital who establishes a connection  with an old dying man.  The matron keeps a close eye on our young girl when she lingers too long with her new friend: ”matron calls her in a tone of permafrost…she snaps in an  enraged whisper.” The old man is whisked away by the girl for a surprise  hot steaming bath. ” Haven’t felt this way in years…weightless.” The old man also gets at the desired but forbidden cigarette from this young cleaner…he’s elated and says “Your blood is worth bottling.”

Tender – Honest, often-hilarious perspective of family life with the backdrop of an approaching appointment for the mother’s biopsy. She remains the Rock of Gibraltar for her family despite her fears.

Like a House on Fire – Hilarious description of father who is chief child-care provider (…suffering from lower back pain)…while he gets the Christmas decorations from the attic…puts the tree in the bucket with bricks to anchor it. The children are not in the Xmas mood but Dad says: “TV of off until every piece of tinsel is on the tree!” Family life and on Christmas eve and relationship with wife endearing and told in details we all see around the house!Absolutely terrific!! It seems every story gets better and better! Bravo Cate Kennedy,  this was the BEST story!



  1. These are the notes I made about the first five short stories.
  2. It seem every story got increasingly better!
  3. Unfortunately….the rest of the stories failed to dazzle me.
  4. The first 5 stories tasted like a sparking glass of champagne
  5. ….they went straight to my head!
  6. The last 10 stories tasted like sparkling water
  7. … refreshing but without the ‘bubble buzz’.

Classic: Thea Astley



  1. I love a good short story.
  2. Usually I review just one story to post on this blog.
  3. W. Trevor  and John Updike are favorites of mine,
  4. ..but a collection is the hardest thing to review.
  5. I want to give Thea Astley the attention she deserves and
  6. …have spent 4 days reading eight short stories!


Weak point:

  1. I felt only a few of the selections were real short stories.
  2. Instead Astely uses each ‘story’ as a continuation of
  3. Keith’s thoughts and adventures in Queensland.
  4. A short story must come to the point!
  5. A short story must reveal in 1st or 2nd
  6. paragraph the mood, theme and conflict.
  7. Astley fails on this point.
  8. In The Curate Breaker  there was a clear  conflict
  9. between the Catholic priest and Anglican minister.
  10. The resolution was believable and touching.
  11. This story made this reader pause and think.
  12. #Bravo



  1. I read these eight stories and have reviewed four.
  2. The first story was a disappointment and
  3. …I had to push myself to read the rest of the book.
  4. I was expecting a short story and got  what sounded
  5. …like the exposition of a novel!
  6. So you’ve been warned: the first story is a dud.
  7. But I kept  reading…giving Astely a chance to improve!


4 REVIEWS     I’ll let you discover the rest yourself!


North: Some Compass Readings: Eden

  1. Setting: Carins
  2. Title: refers to the first two sentences:
  3. “Let me draw you a map…put it just north of 20 and 146 east…
  4. sea bitten rind of coast…limbo for those who’ve lost direction.”
  5. Parents: Iris and Bernard are exact opposites:
  6. Iris: gorges on horoscopes, sports a lucky color and
  7. it always seems to be the Ides of March.
  8. Bernard: jocular, jaunty and tips his son an unsmiling
  9. wink as he he rattles his newspaper busily.
  10. Narrator:  Keith Leverson
  11. Note: Iris, Bernard and Keith are
  12. characters are from Astley’s book The Slow Natives.
  13. A suburban couple, Iris and Bernard, 
  14. …have drifted into the shallows of middle-aged boredom.
  15. Their fourteen-year-old son, Keith  is a stranger.


  1. Fourteen-year-old son, Keith is now
  2. middle-aged, thinning blond hair and
  3. ..has lost one leg in a car accident
  4. …that was central in the book The Slow Natives.
  5. Keith sets out on a journey  from Carins
  6. to Falls Gorge on the Kuranda railway.
  7. Keith/Astley  rants about the influx of lean, arrogantly young
  8. Balmain and South Yarra drop-outs, 
  9. the new urban trendies and
  10. the  middle-aged straights trying to adopt the patois and local dress.
  11. Theme: landscape is beautiful in Queensland
  12. ….but you get more magic from strangers (the misfits).


Weak point: allusions

  1. The use of allusions in Astley’s novels is
  2. one of the elements of her style  that I enjoy reading.
  3. But in her short stories I think she has
  4. overreached herself and lost much of her focus


Weak point:  Tone

  1. The tone achieved by the use of allusions
  2. shifted from imaginative in her novels...
  3. to pedantic in the short stories.



  1. This was NOT an easy read.
  2. Astley starts her story in the present but
  3. flashbacks to a month ago, then yesterday,
  4. …then the present again.
  5. It was hard to follow. 
  6. The author makes it even more complex….
  7. by filling the story with too many allusions.
  8. Brilliant writing….but not a well-balanced story.
  9. Thea Astely’s novels?   TOP! 
  10. Thea Astely’s short stories?   Not her strong point!
  • Allusion: poem Trade Winds by J. Masefield
  • Allusion:  Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • Allusion: to Virgil  “Sera comans, Iris” (the late blooming…)
  • Allusion: D.H. Lawrence poem Green:
  • “…the gorge is evaporating in green light,
  • green into greeness as Lawrence might have said…”
  • ... Astely assumes we all know who Lawrence is.



The Curate Breaker


  1. This was a normal short story….a pleasure to read
  2. …with a beginning, middle and end.
  3. The story centers around an insanely bitter conflict
  4. between the Roman Catholic priest and the Anglican canon.
  5. Father Rassini and Canon Morrow  are at odds
  6. …but their lives are heartbreakingly parallel.
  7. The tragedy is….neither the priest nor the canon
  8. see their uncharitable behavior.
  9. Canon Morrow flatters and shields his ego from blame
  10. when we make mistakes (berating his wife…severely, angrily)
  11. because he is doing God’s work.
  12. Father Rassini observes this behavior and is appalled.
  13. But this suave man of God realizes he is no better than Canon Morrow.
  14. Father Rassini has callously ill-treated his father
  15. snapping and shouting at him when the elderly parent falters.
  16. Father Rassini suddenly leaves the house after seeing
  17. his frail, grey parent shelling peas for the evening meal.
  18. Father Rassini must spend some quiet time with God,
  19. asking Him to show him where he needs to change.


Hunting the Wild Pineapple


  1. I was hoping to have a great time enjoying
  2. Astley’s humor and  finding out what
  3. in heaven’s name the wild pineapple meant.
  4. My enthusiasm waned.
  5. Why do bad souffles happen to good cooks?
  6. Why do dull stories….happen to good writers?
  7. This story started out with Astley’s keen observation of bored
  8. people  at a tropical Bed and Breakfast
  9. …where the pink gin, vodkas on ice
  10. …and stingers kept the guests
  11. in a permanent ‘happy-hour’.
  12. There was some sexual tension arising  among
  13. B&B owner, guests and two plantation workers (gay and bi).
  14. But nothing that made the story shine.
  15. Hunting the Wild Pineapple was a hoax to
  16. …take bored and slightly tipse guests
  17. …on a wild goose chase.
  18. This story had so much potential
  19. ..and I hoped it would entertain me as much as
  20. Boat Load of Home Folk,
  21. but this short story sadly #Collapsed.


A Northern Belle


  1. Astley uses no alcohol, no allusions  only Clarice’s tears and embedded fears:
  2. Fear black men instilled by her mother
  3. Fear of sins of the flesh instilled by the nuns, Mother Suplice.
  4. Irony: her mother was determined her daughter Clarice would marry well
  5. ….but her only true love was Bixer, her dog.
  6. Weak point: 
  7. There is no real epiphany, no redemptive moment.
  8. Just a sad life that ends with a traumatized unmarried
  9. …50 yr old woman….screaming.
  10. #Disappointing, lacking imagination.





Victorian Premier’s Literary Award Drama 2018

Nisha and Yvette



Understanding characters in plays allows the reader to relate to
different situations, backgrounds, and cultures.
Asian-Australian office cleaner Yvette clashes with
ambitious Australian-Indian Nisha corporate executive officer in multinational.
A lasting friendship begins.….


What is the play about?

  1. Michele Lee writes plays about women of colour.
  2. Rice is about an ambitious, self-obsessed Indian executive
  3. Nisha Gupta (28 yr) working for Golden Fields Company.
  4. She is the granddaughter of a West Bengal immigrant.
  5. She is ‘second in charge’ of an agricultural company.
  6. Yvette Tang (61 yr) is a Chinese immigrant.
  7. She is a single-mother, one daughter.
  8. She is an office cleaner.
  9. Yvette and Nisha.… multicultural women
  10. …making their way in modern Australia.



  1. Metaphor:  Nisha is on the top floor of the building
  2. ….successful.
  3. Metaphor:  Yvette  is in the basement of the building
  4. .…struggling with a menial job.


Strong point:

  1. Michele Lee uses parallels throughout the play to show
  2. us the connection between Yvette and Nisha.
  3. It took me 2 readings to discover them all!


Yvette and Nisha:  similarities

  1. both work in Golden Fields building
  2. both have emotional ties to family – yvette/daughter; Nisha/grandmother
  3. both are  ‘putting on an act’
  4. Yvette = “little old cleaner victim” – Nisha = “Your corporate act”
  5. both are businesswomen
  6. Yvette: Import.”You think I import plastics? (imports Prada knock-offs)
  7. Nisha: I’m E.O. of Golden Fields. I’m strategic!
  8. both live in suburbs of  Melbourne
  9. ….but at opposite sides. Yvette: Eltham – Nisha: Werribee


Strong point:

  1. The ‘tit-for-tat’  dialogue between Nisha and Yvette…
  2. It snaps, crackles and pops off the page.
  3. Nisha:  You’re the one with the vacuum cleaner. End of story
  4. Yvette: Not the end
  5. Nisha:  Chinese cleaner
  6. Yvette: Indian princess
  7. Nisha:  You’re a cleaner
  8. Yvette: You’re a baby
  9. Yvette: I empty. (complained that Nisha left her rubbish on desk an not in bin)
  10. Nisha:  Both my bins are full. Nothing on the table. Happy?



  1. They’re from different cultures, different generations
  2. …but  a bond develops between Yvette and Nisha
  3. Yvette: Act 1  Very fussy. Very big bitch. Hope she get fired
  4. Yvette: Act 3   (…she mumurs)  “I will miss you little shadow.
  5. Nisha:  Act 1 I stay. I eat. I make a mountain of rubbish for you.
  6. Nisha:  Act 3 You tell me what to do…Well I pretty much did, ok?
  7. Yvette: Act 3  “All you want is me to say you are right.”
  8. Nisha:  Act 3 “Say something about me. Tell me. Judge me


Echoes:  of friendship

  1. Act 1:
  2. Nisha “This is the part of the story where we first meet.”
  3. Yvette: “This the part where we eat.” (rice together….)
  4. Rice is an ancient symbol of wealth,
  5. success, fertility and good health.
  6. It is powerful.
  7. Act 3:
  8. Yvette “This is the part where we leave together.
  9. This is the part where we go.”


Yvette changes:

  1. Plays the victim …(act 2)
  2. …groveling at the feet of David Egan, son of CEO of Coles company.
  3. Does not express her opinion…”But not everything I think I have to say.”
  4. Change:
  5. Act 3 we see a ‘re-born’ Yvette with a voice!
  6. A voice in sync with the new generation….her daughter Sheree!
  7. “Mr. David Egan. Fuck you.
  8. “Coles is evil and the system is broken.
  9. And that is all I have to say to you. Mr. David Egan.”


Nisha changes:

  1. In the first two acts Nisha is a corporate ‘high-roller.”
  2. She has a better grasp of the world.
  3. She is is a little brighter than the next person.
  4. She is a high stakes player who is willing
  5. to place large bets and take risks.
  6. She is brokering a rice deal with biggest retainer in the world.
  7. Plot:  Nisha’s fatal overseas
  8. business trip to sell rice to the Indians.
  9. “Any day now this phone is going to sing.”
  10. …this is game-changing, history-breaking.”
  11. Change:
  12. Act 3 “I don’t do anything special. (E.O) It’s a bullshit title.
  13. Nisha once demanded Yvette clean….end of story.
  14. Now Nisha helps Yvette empty bins,
  15. …squashes the rubbish down and adds in new bin liners.
  16. She’s about to be fired….the rise and fall of Nisha.


Strong point: 

  1. Michele Lee allows Yvette a
  2. heightened level of knowledge about Nisha.
  3. The older generation may not have
  4. a Masters degree from University of Sydney
  5. but Yvette can teach Nisha.
  6. Yvette  shows her that she should not be afraid of
  7. shame…of failing…not being perfect.
  8. Yvette has learned that the hard way.


Nisha and Yvette help each other:

  1. Courage is the feeling we need to bring to the surface
  2. if we want to change things.
  3. Nisha helps Yvette find her voice and the courage to quit.
  4. The courage to be closer to her daughter.
  5. Yvette helps Nisha to see the world from ‘street level’
  6. and realize how lucky she is.
  7. “You need help? Huh? Why? You are young,
  8. you have a job. Look at you.


Strong point:  coded words, foreign languages…multicultural

  1. Echoes: Wo hui xiang nie de, xiao yingzi”
  2. This is the thread that connects Yvette to Nisha
  3. I will miss you little shadow”.
  4. Echoes:  “Tini bijoyer sathei aasen.”
  5. This is the thread that connects Nisha to Yvette
  6. and her grandmother.
  7. “She moves with victory.”


Valerie:  voice that makes you stop and think…comic relief.

  1. Valerie is a  60+ Russian who
  2. …is the cleaning service supervisor of Yvette.
  3. She is only in the first act…but has something to say!
  4. Valerie and Yvette represent the older generation.
  5. How is that fussy bitch? (Nisha)
  6. Fuck you time sheet! (cleaners trained for 2 minute only office clean)
  7. Why is this world worse than when we came into it?
  8. Don’t look so tragic. Life is shit. Company training say so.


Theme:  mother vs daughter

  1. Yvette Chinese cleaner  vs  Sheree political activist/law student.
  2. These are the emotional scenes
  3. a mother and a  daughter.
  4. Yvette and Sheree are from different generations.
  5. Act 1:
  6. “In this world you bring me shame, but I only have you…
  7. …you only have me.”
  8. They are exact opposites.
  9. Act 2:
  10. Sheree wants trouble,
  11. to step on corporate toes, be  a modern-day martyr.
  12. Yvette wants to keep a low profile… nose to the grindstone.
  13. Yvette has learned it does not pay ‘to make waves.’
  14. Act 2:
  15. Mother and daughter clash.
  16. Sheree speaks her mind: “You only do things for yourself” ….
  17. Yvette: “Your Ma, always, always, everything to help you, keep you….”
  18. In Act 3 I found the most poignant remarks by Yvette:
  19. “Thank you for being mine.”


What is different in this play?

  1. Characters: There are 11 characters in the play.
  2. but just two actresses on the stage.
  3. The women can change their voices, accents
  4. and stage lighting (according to the stage directions)
  5. helps differentiate the characters.
  6. TWO protagonists:  Nisha and Yvette
  7. story lines are   closely intertwined,
  8. …both in the plot and the theme.
  9. Structure: NOT  the classic 3 act play
  10. focus on 1 character – conflict-driven –
  11. cause and effect….progressively raising the stakes.
  12. This is OPEN MODEL:
  13. uses  parallel action, echoes
  14. events linked by coincidence
  15. ending, instead of resolution


Conclusion:  my thoughts

Note:  I have learned that when I read a play I know I will absorb only the basics during the first reading: characters, setting, structure of the play. The best way to read a play is just before bedtime. Then I try to retell mysef what the play is about. In the morning I have new thoughts about conflicts, parallels, repetition of phrases (echoes). Reading a play is more difficult than reading a novel!

Note: This play is a brilliant piece or writing that you will not realize if you just read it once. The subplots are good (Graeme, Tom, Johnny Song) but concentrate on the  main character’s dialogues of Nisha and Yvette.  Try to hear….what is NOT being said!  Michele Lee has deservedly won  prestigious prizes: Victorian Premier’s Award Drama 2018 and Queensland Premier’s Award Drama 2016-2017.

Note: Reading a play on Kindle…is not as much fun.  In the book I can make notes, highlight dialogue. Yes, I can do that on Kindle…..but I love having the script in front of me. It is an intimate reading of a playwrights hard work!  It is so much fun to dissect a play.


Australian ‘new to me’ or slang:

  1. ASOS:  – global fashion place for 20-somethings
  2. The Iconic: Australian/New Zealand   fashion place for 20-somethings
  3. bogan  – One of minimal intelligence, standards and fasion sense. Located in Australia, found in caravan parks, housing commission, the pub or Centrelink queues. (Urban dictionary)