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Posts from the ‘Australian Women Writers’ Category


#AWW 2019 True Stories



  1. Yet again, another Helen Garner book
  2. …that I did NOT want to end!
  3. She is a magnificent wirter and I am
  4. glued to the page with the vivid details she  provides.
  5. I kept this book under my pillow (IPod audio book)
  6. to transport me to the ‘reading room’ between
  7. being awake ….and asleep.
  8. Some stories I had to listen to twice
  9. …fell asleep before the ending.
  10. Who does not wake up at 3 am sometimes for no reason?
  11. This audio book was the perfect ‘sleeping pill’.
  12. Helen Garner’s voice is soothing and you drift off quickly.


Last thoughts:


  1. Selections about her sisters
  2. Cruising on  Russian ocean liner
  3. Five train trips in the region of Melbourne
  4. Stories about authors, Patrick White and Elizabeth Jolley
  5. The Insults of Age
  6. Marriage
  7. Death
  8. Labour Maternity Ward, Penrith
  9. These are only a few that really impressed me.
  10. One story I started but could not finish:
  11. Killing Daneil.
  12. Garner is known for her true crime books
  13. …and this story was just too distressing (child abuse)
  14. So, you are warned….you can just skip it…as I did.


  • Helen Garner delves deeply into a crime
  • so vivdly it is impossible to read….and I imagine
  • just as hard to put on paper.
  • It is an extraordinary way of writing.
  • She has to take care that
  • ..she is not “drawn into the darkness”
  • …of the subject she is writing about.
  • Her books,  for example This House of Grief
  • have taken an emotional an
  • physical toll on Helen Garner.



  1. A book to read leisurely….
  2. that stays with you for a lifetime.

#AWW 2019 Drylands



  1. Helen Garner once said in an interview: ‘
  2. Not being able to read after cataract surgery for 10 days
  3. …..was unbearable”
  4. I know how she felt.
  5. Desperate to quench my reading thirst
  6. ….I’m listening to Drylands by Thea Astley. (7 hrs 17 minutes)
  7. Perhaps when I can enjoy better vision
  8. ….I will re-read the paperback version.
  9. Astely’s prose is worth savoring again.



  1. In her flat above Drylands’ newsagency,
  2. Janet Deakin (voice of the author herself…)
  3. is writing a book for the world’s last reader.
  4. She describes a cast of oddball characters
  5. in the small bush town of Drylands.
  6. ...desperate housewife’s ‘Walk to Canossa”
  7. …unnerving bar noise ‘seeping in like conscience’
  8. …staring at the closed bar ‘the Legless Lizard’ with
  9. its door bolt ‘hanging like a limp hand’
  10. But the town is being outmaneuvered by drought
  11. and begins to empty
  12. “…pouring itself out like water into sand.”
  13. As Janet decides to sell her store
  14. “it wasn’t  dust she wanted to shake off her feet
  15. ….it was memories”
  16. Last scrawled message on her desk: ‘Get a life…
  17. Her response: ‘Too late.
  18. These are just a few tidbits
  19. I remembered while listening
  20. to Thea Astley’s last masterpiece.
  21. #Bravo



#AWW 2019 Victorian Literary Best YA Novel

  • Author Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
  • Title: Catching Teller Crow
  • Genre: ghost story (speculative fiction)
  • Reading time:  2 hrs  40 min
  • Published: 2019
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters 
  • Trivia:  2019 Winner Aurealis Award  Best Young Adults Novel
  • Trivia: 2019  Winner Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
  • Best Writing for Young Adults.



  1. A ghost girl who is staying with her father while he grieves.
  2. In doing so, she begins to help him with a murder mystery.



  1. The hook is the concept  that Officer Teller’s
  2. assistant while investigating a series of murders
  3. …is his daughter’s…ghost!
  4. Another hook is the witness’s statement that
  5. “This thing didn’t start with the fire…It started at sunset” (pg 24)
  6. And who is Tansy Webster and her angels?  Wings flapping? (pg 94)
  7. Now readers are turning pages
  8. ….curious….tension!



  1. Loss of a loved one and the stages of mourning or
  2. grief are overriding themes.
  3. Injustice towards the Aboriginal people
  4. …is also a strong theme.


Parallels: Mike Teller vs Derek Bell

  1. Both Officer Michael Teller (Beth’s Dad) and
  2. Officer Derek Bell grew up in small town and
  3. their fathers were also cops!
  4. Gerry Bell and  Officer Teller sr.


Parallels:  Father and daughter –>  epiphany moments (pg 132)

  1. Both Beth (daughter) and  Mike Teller (father) have
  2. epiphany moments:
  3. Beth realizes she does not belong here (with the living). (pg 130)
  4. Mike Teller realizes he is blaming himself
  5. …for an accident he could not prevent.
  6. He feels he failed his daughter.
  7. He was holding on to a burden
  8. …something that was not his to bear. (pg 133)


Contrasts:  Father  vs son  (pg 132)

  1. Officer Michael teller does not want to be like his
  2. racist father. He was a police officer who did not do
  3. enough to protect the Aboriginals.
  4. Mike did not want to be one of those
  5. people who didn’t pay attention.
  6. Officer Teller took any injustice
  7. ….personally (wife was Aboriginal)
  8. when Aboriginals  are not treated right.


Contrasts:  Beth in “Catching Teller Crow”  vs  Else in “The Endsister”

  1. Narrator Beth is just about the same age as Else in The Endsister
  2. One is dead….one is still alive
  3. …one is cheerful….and one is confused, isolated.
  4. Beth shows no signs of ‘the teenage brain’ as did Else.
  5. It seems once you’ve died…all your problems disappear!
  6. ….mood swings, erratic behavior, ill-tempered….
  7. I will try to find a moment in Beth’s
  8. narration that shows her in a bad mood!
  9. Yes, she does cry….she had to make an important decision
  10. …about the colours.


Strong point:  Beth’s ghost is Detective M. Teller’s assistant

  1. This is a great plot device.
  2. Beth can linger in places once
  3. her father has left to eavesdrop
  4. on suspects conversations and actions!
  5. #Clever


Strong point:    Role reversal literary device  (pg 11)

  1. “He and I were the reverse of each other:
  2. I couldn’t remember my death;
  3. Dad couldn’t remember my life…” (pg 11)
  4. Another role reversal….
  5. Dad was looking after Beth when his wife died.
  6. That had kept Dad going.
  7. Now Beth was looking after her Dad
  8. ….to keep him going. (pg 13)



Strong point:  Writing style varies… for certain effects!

  1. Chapters about CATCHING...
  2. Isobel  speaks in staccato sentences.
  3. Staccato sentences are short and often emphatic to
  4. focus the reader or listener on content.
  5. This technique borrowed from poetry intensifies
  6. Catching’s aboriginal storytelling…
  7. with base emotions….earthy!
  8. This conveys certain kinds of emotions in particular,
  9. namely fear, anxiety, anger, confusion and stress.


Strong point:     Izzy’s storytelling

  1. These chapters are fun to read.
  2. You can lose yourself in them…
  3. let you imagination soar.
  4. I’m sure YA readers can find something
  5. in these tellings to hold on to.
  6. I enjoyed these next few lines:
  7. — Courage eats fear.
  8. — Joy eats sadness.
  9. — Choose the opposite of grey.


#NoWeakPoints !!



  1. This was absolutely a stunning novel!
  2. I’ve never been so entertained reading YA fiction.
  3. I think the storytelling (Aboriginal influences) was spot on.
  4. But  the most important part of the book  for me
  5. ….was how people dealt with grief. (Officer Mike Teller)
  6. They say time is a healer.
  7. But grief is always in the hollow of your heart.
  8. It’s just waiting for something to shake it out.
  9. Beth was there to shake it out of her Dad.
  10. Because loss never really leaves you.
  11. Loss alters you.
  12. #MustRead….worthy winner
  13. Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
  14. Best Young Adults Novel 2019



#AWW 2019 Nine Lives: Women Writers

  • Author:  Susan Sheridan
  • Title: Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark
  • Published: 2011
  • Genre: non-fiction
  • Rating: A
  • Trivia:  This book has been sitting on my TBR for two years!
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019   @AusWomenWriters



  1. Trying to get back to books with
  2. …’one’ very good eye after cataract surgery
  3. …the the other eye ready for correction in 2 weeks.
  4. #NeedCoffee



  1. Why did I wait so long to read this wonderful book?
  2. I think the  bland bookcover did not catch my eye.
  3. Ms Sheridan should have used thumbnail photos of te
  4. …talented Australian writers she was about  to introduce to this reader!


  1. This books contains
  2. nine condensed, compact biographies of Australian Women writers
  3. Sheridan highlights a generation of women writers
  4. overlooked in the Australian contemporary literary scene.
  5. These women writers who were born between 1915-1930:
  6. Judith Wright
    Thea Astley
    Dorothy Hewett
    Rosemary Dobson
    Dorothy Aucherlonie Green
    Gwen Harwood
    Jessica Anderson
    Amy Witting
    Elizabeth Jolley


  1. All had children...
  2. J. Wright and D. Green were the sole support of their families.
  3. The nine women were versatile writers
  4. poet, playwright, novelist, short stories,
  5. non-fiction (autobiography), literary critic and editor.
  6. T. Astely won Miles Franklin Award 4x, Jessica Anderson 2x and E. Jolley 1x.
  7. All shared a sense of urgency…
  8. their vocation, their ‘need’ to be a writer
  9. that would not let them rest.



  1. Judith Wright – was an important name in the emerging postwar literature.
  2. She was one of the few Australian poets to achieve international recognition.
  3. Ms Wright is the author of of several collections of poetry,
  4. including The Moving Image, Woman to
  5. Man, The Gateway, The Two Fires, Birds,
  6. The Other Half, Magpies, Shadow, Hunting Snake, among others.
  7. Her work is noted for a keen focus on the Australian environment.



  1. Thea Astley –  I am a huge fan of this writer.
  2. I did learn more tidbits of info about this woman.
  3. Critics were not always kind to Thea Astely.
  4. The ending of  The Slow Natives
  5. …was  “…too sentimental and melodramatic.
  6. I didn’t think so!
  7. Even Patrick White was harsh.
  8. Criticism should be like rain
  9. …gentle enough to nourish growth without
  10. …destroying the roots.
  11. White’s  fault finding ended their friendship.
  12. Thea Astley won Miles Franklin Award four times!


  1. Dorothy Hewett – After reading Ms Hewett’s short biography in this book the
  2. only thing that suited this woman is the song: Born to be Wild  !!
  3. Once I read about the tumultuous life of Dorothy Hewett I knew
  4. I had to read her books.
  5. I ordered Baker’s Dozen ( 13 short stories)…
  6. …cannot wait to read it!



  1. Rosemary Dobson – She was fully established as a poet by the age of 35.
  2. She published 14 collections of poems.
  3. The Judges of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 1996
  4. described her significance as follows:
  5. “The level of originality and strength of
  6. Rosemary’s poetry cannot be underestimated…”


  1. Dorothy Auchterlonie Green –  She saw herself primarily as a scholar.
  2. Ms Green felt overworked and
  3. under-recognized, trapped by circumstances of her life and unsure of her capacity as a poet.
  4. She won widespread admiration for her poetry, literary scholarship
  5. her reviews and social criticism and inspirational teaching.


  1. Gwen Harwood – She was sick of the way poetry
  2. editors (Meanjin) treated her…no accepting her work.
  3. Ms Harwoon created several nom de plume: Geyer , Lehmann and Stone.
  4. Geyer and Lehmann were regularly invited to meet editors for lunch next time they were in Sydney
  5. or Melbourne. Geyer was evern invited to read at the Adelaide Festival.
  6. ….he respectively declined.
  7.  Awards


  1. Jessica Anderson – She was in a male-dominated and
  2. Anglocentric publishing world.
  3. How did she survive?
  4. She cultivated the qualities of character and
  5. strategies of survival necessary to
  6. sustain enough belief in herself to go on writing.
  7. She won the Miles Franklin Award twice…1978 and 1980.

  1. Amy Witting – For many years Amy Witting was invisible in the literary world.
  2. She won the Patrick White Award 1993
  3. for writers who have not received adequate recognition.
  4. I am waiting for her book of short stories to arrive…Marriages
  5. …I’m sure Amy Witting will have much to tell about this institution!


  1. Elizabeth Jolley – In a single year she received 39 rejection slips
  2. …yet she persisted.
  3. She won Miles Franklin Award 1986.


#AUSReadingMonth 2019 Clementine Ford



  1. I read Sue’s excellent post @ Whispering Gums
  2. about a disussion that took place during the
  3. Sydney Writers Festival 2019.
  4. Boys to Men: The masculinity crisis
  5. Panel: Clementine Ford, Adam Liaw, Janice Petersen (Convenor).
  6. I knew I had to read Ford’s book.
  7. Please take the time  to read Sue’s summation of the
  8. panel will enrich your reading of
  9. Boys Will Be Boys as only the author herself can do!


 Ms Ford highlights what is meant as…..

  1. Fog of  toxic masculinity
  2. ….no inside voice,
  3. preferring to roar wherever they go
  4. boisterous, barrelling through the world
  5. …with an admiral lack of restraint.
  6. They (men)  have each other’s back
  7. close ranks against anyone else who threatens them.
  8. Boys are currently conditioned to be
  9. entitled, domineering, sexist, privileged.



  1. Boys Will Be Boys
  2. Ms Ford uses this common sentiment that is bandied about
  3. without thought and expose just how damaging it is for everyone
  4. ….including boys.



  1. Gender INEQUALITY  is first learned at home
  2. Filtered down through pop culture
  3. A launching pad into even more damaging practices later.


Ch 1 – It’s a Boy –> gender stereotyping

  1. People frequently assign  sex based on
  2. arbitrary indicators (color of clothes (pink/blue),
  3. messages on t-shirts (“brave & strong” –“happy & peace”),
  4. toys (dolls vs active toys, trucks, cars etc).


Ch 2 – A Woman’s Place –> domestic dynamics

  1. Ponder this:
  2. “…women who choose to live romantically with men are acting against
  3. their own economic interest.”


  1. Ch 3 – Girls on Film –> female roles in films 
  2. Ch 4 – Not All Men –>   “..stop making me (men) feel bad.”
  3. Ch 5 – We Know What Boys Are Like –> teach men healthy intimacy
  4. Ch 6 – Mass Debate –>  Alt-right phenomenon Milos  Yiannopoulos
  5. Ch 7 – The Manosphere –> most bone-chilling chapter
  6. Ch 8 – Your Honor, I Object –> the heart of the MRA agenda (Men’s Rights Activists)
  7. Ch 9 – The King of the Hill –> power and privileged white men
  8. Ch 10 – It’s Just a Joke –> Why do comics make rape a side-splitting topic?
  9. Ch 11 – Asking For It –> Jane Doe vs players Ulster rugby team… but she consented!
  10. Ch 12 – Witch Hunt –>  #MeToo…list of shame!
  11. Epilogue –  ….a letter to her toddler son….it is a thing of beauty and love to read!



  1. This book  may seem like small comfort
  2. finally confronting the  problem of toxic masculinity
  3. that we see playing out in the
  4. workplace, home, schools, governments.
  5. But in a time like this, when it’s hard to understand how
  6. our culture became so “toxic”  with
  7. male dominance, power, privilege, misogyny
  8. reading is probably the best possible option to try to
  9. think about how society has gotten where we are now
  10. …and how we can and should change it.
  11. #EyeOpener
  12. #MustRead
  13. The book left me drained
  14. ….so much to process.


Last Thoughts:

  1. I’ve tried to read more poetry this year
  2. …and once in a  while a ‘flash’ of recognition
  3. goes off in my mind.
  4. NSW Literary Award 2019 for poetry was won by
  5. Kate Lilley, daughter of the famous poet, feminist Dorothy Hewett.
  6. Her book of poems TILT  (autobiographical and
  7. some confessional poems) will touch your heart.
  8. Unknown to me was Kate Lilley’s back round and her immersion
  9. in the Bohemian life of her parents in 1970s.
  10. She was abused by friends of parents
  11. ….male entitled predators.
  12. Lilley has suffered for years trying to put her life together
  13. after living with a mother whose motto was:
  14.  …guess what?
  15. Boys Will Be Boys”.

#AUSReadingMonth 2019 The Thinking Woman




Julienne Van Loon engages with the work of
six leading contemporary thinkers and writers
Rosi Braidotti (ch 6, Friendship),
Nancy Holmstrom, Siri Hustvedt,
Laura Kipnis (ch 1, Love),
Julia Kristeva and Marina Warner.


Chapters 1 and 6 stand out for me…most captivating.
Other readers may find ch 3-5 also fascinating.


It is buoyant, intelligent and very satisfying book
as it delivers a solid dose of thought about
love, work, wonder, fear, friendship and play.


Ms Van Loon reveals we are in this together
…but we are not one in the same.


Rosi Braidotti’s inspiration was Spinoza.
I found this the most interesting part of the book.


Trust in our shared intimacy with and knowledge of
the world and our lived experience of it.


Ms Van loon does share her intimate experiences….


#AUSReadingMonth 2019 An Unconventional Wife


Hook: introduction 

  1. Ms Hoban explains what drew
  2. …her to write about Julia Sorell Arnold
  3. It was very personal  text that
  4. …made this reader eager to continue reading!
  5. I had to find out if Tom Arnold could
  6. …tame the high spirited Julia Sorell
  7. ..the the ruling belle of Hobart of Tasmania
  8. ..into the Victorian ideal of a wife?


Conflict:  Tom vs Julia …and religion

  1. In the world that Julia and Tom inhabited
  2. religion was never simply about belief.
  3. It was about position. economic stability and place in society.
  4. This was true for Tom and Julia…and their children.


Tom’s weak point:

  1. He had a tyrannical understanding of marriage.
  2. He turned the blowtorch onto Julia.
  3. He blamed her for all that had happened to them.


Julia’s  strong point:

  1. For a woman….marriage was a destiny,
  2. …nothing more, nothing less.
  3. But Julia would be…
  4. a revolutionary wife.
  5. not go where Tom took her
  6. not believe what he believed
  7. not do as he asked.



  1. This is a magnificent biography!
  2. Mary Hoban just swept me away to Tasmania and
  3. …then on to Brussels, England and Ireland.
  4. I was so engrossed in the story I had no time to take notes!
  5. Julia felt like a very modern woman…in a Victorian world:
  6. She was fiercely independent.
  7. Tom radiates toxic masculinity in every chapter.
  8. As in many marriages…partners hope to change each other’s behavior.
  9. We read in this book the collision course
  10. that Tom and Julia were destined to follow.
  11. Tom’s wife must in all things submit to him.
  12. Julia cannot give up her own soul.
  13. Their relationship becomes a battle to the death.
  14. Julia refused to adhere to the ideal of a Victorian woman.
  15. She refused to be silent.
  16. #Excellent biography!


Last Thoughts:  (feedback to @bronasbooks)

  1. I rarely get ‘swept’ away with a biography but
  2. my heart just went out to Julia Sorell Arnold!
  3. Mary Hoban writes with a flair that touches on a novel….
  4. it is a well-crafted, beautifully rendered meditation on
  5. abandonment (Julia – mother)
  6. marriage (opposites attract)
  7. religion (Catholic and Protestant….sharing the same bed!)
  8. grief, (loss beloved father; children [stillborn, sickness])
  9. the ‘can’t live with you…but can’t live without you’
  10. ….type relationship between Julia and Arnold.
  11. It seem distance does make the heart grow fonder
  12. …and not to mention 9 children!
  13. I could go on and on
  14. ….but I hope this book is on your TBR
  15. great read during Xmas holidays!




#AusReadingMonth 2019 Madeleine O’ Dea


Madeleine O’Dea:

  1. Madeleine O’Dea is a journalist and foreign correspondent.
  2. She has been an eyewitness for over 30 years to the rise of China.
  3. She has witnessed the explosion of China’s  contemporary art.



  1. Madeleine O’Dea tell us the personal stories
  2. of nine contemporary Chinese artists.
  3. The Phoenix Years shows how China’s rise unleashed creativity
  4. and sparked tensions between the individual and the state.
  5. The book reveals…
  6. the difficult compromises artists and others
  7. have to make …to be citizens in modern China.



  1. The artists in this book were reared in the post-Mao Zedong era.
  2. They are known to avoid  the overly political themes of previous generations.
  3. They concentrate  on merging classical Eastern modes of art-making
  4. …with contemporary issues.


What makes this book so unique?

  1. Ms. O’Dea explores how the
  2. past weighed down on China
  3. …and what is happening now
  4. …in modern China (muscular government).
  5. But she does this while investigating the question:
  6. “Where were the artists in all this?


Strong point:   I was introduced to many contemporary Chinese artists:


Huang Rui  (1952) (plays a prominent role in this book)

  1. Huang experienced firsthand the Cultural Revolution (1966–76).
  2. As a teenager,  he was sent from Beijing to Inner Mongolia
  3. to work on a farm under Mao Zedong’s reeducation campaign.
  4. Upon Mao’s death in 1976, which led to the end of the revolution,
  5. the political climate loosened and a wave of cultural ferment swept the nation.
  6. He experimented with Impressionist, Cubist and Fauvist styles.
  7. Stars (group of artists)  disbanded in 1984, with several of its
  8. practitioners moving overseas.
  9. Huang, who married a Japanese woman the same year,
  10. then entered the first of two periods of self-exile in Japan.
  11. He didn’t return to Beijing to settle down permanently until 2002.


Cao Fei  (1978)

  1. She Cao taps into popular culture and draws from
  2. classic arcade games to show how the notion of escapism.
  3. She was born in 1978 in Guangzhou  on the
  4. Pearl River and the manufacturing center of China.
  5. She grew up absorbing the various influences
  6. that flooded her hometown and focused on
  7. creating art that examined China’s economic boom.


Guo Jian (1961)

  1. He migrated to Australia in 1992 working as a house painter, brickie.
  2. Today the  National Gallery of Australis, GOMA and White Rabbit are among
  3. the Australian institutions that have collected his work.
  4. Guo Jian has been creating photographs he took in China on the piles of
  5. rubbish that are obliterating the landscape of his youth. (Rubbish Culture)


Zhang Xiaogang (1958)

  1. He is a Chinese symbolist and surrealist painter.
  2. He is famous with his Bloodline series, where mostly monochromatic,
  3. stylized portraits of Chinese people are presented as
  4. part of the artist’s exploration of the ‘family’ concept.
  5. He reconciles China’s choppy recent history in art
  6. …and is one of the most important painters working in China today.
  7. Here is a great link “Zhang Xiaogang explained in 5 paintings


  1. Ms O’ Dea’s book combines information about
  2. Chinese economic transformation
  3. and what was happening in private lives.
  4. Core message: how closely intertwined process of artistic
  5. …and economic awakening were for China.
  6. I had difficulty following all the names
  7. mentioned until I discovered that at the
  8. end of the book is glossary of all artists.
  9. Look at their photographs b/c it is
  10. easier to follow if you can connect a name to a face.
  11. The book pivots in chapter 6!
  12. The narrative is more personal and
  13. we follow Ms O’Dea back to China in 1993.
  14. She shares what she feared she would find.


Last thoughts:

  1. This book was amazing.
  2. Once I discovered the structure of the narrative
  3. it was all smooth reading.
  4. Ms O’Dea introduces the artists in chapters 1-5
  5. and we meet them again 20 years
  6. later at the end of the book.
  7. Buckle up for a wonderful ride
  8. …through modern China that you don’t find on Wikipedia!
  9. #Bravo

#AUSReadingMonth Dr. Space Junk vs The Universe



  1. The 52-year-old space archaeologist at
  2. …Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia,
  3. is living her childhood dream.
  4. She is weighing up spacecraft,
  5. landing sites and debris flying around Earth and
  6. deciding if a relic should be preserved or
  7. …simply remain  junk based on its cultural and heritage value.


Core message:

  1. Ms Gorman wants to take a physical journey through the solar system and
  2. ….a conceptual journey into human interactions with space.



  1. This is not a book to read in bed
  2. …the first 2 chapters…I kept falling asleep.
  3. Not the most interesting subjects…


  1. Project Moonwatch…citizens watching for  satellites with binoculars/telescopes
  2. Ham radio amateurs ….citizens listening to space-age sounds in  sheds and backyards
  3. Attempted space probes by Soviet Union (1961-1984) to reach Venus…Venera landers
  4. Musk’s red sports car jettisoned into space…..not interested
  5. Food to commemorate space ….the intangible heritage of the Space Age? …not interested
  6. Culinary legacy of the Cold War: Sputnik cocktail,
  7. …olive with toothpicks = Sputnik…not interested.
  8. TV and space: My Favorite Martian, I Dream of Jeannie...not interested
  9. Companies who will launch you ashes inside a spacecraft into low orbit....not interested
  10. and the book goes on, and on, and on like this ad nauseam



  1. Book was like a dog’s breakfast….a failed culinary effort.
  2. It felt confused, slapdash, unfocused, rambling and prolific repetition.
  3. I started the book with high hopes
  4. …but with each chapter I struggled to
  5. get through the next few pages.
  6. All that was left was to skim and look away.
  7. Dr Space Junk vs The Universe?
  8. It was a junk heap of words.
  9. #Bah
  10. …….a dull book which even drink can’t enliven much.





#AUSReadingMonth 2019 Sea People

Bora Bora

  • Author:  Christina Thompson
  • Title: Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
  • Published: 2019
  • Genre: non-fiction
  • Rating: A
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s History Award  General History
  • Trivia: 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Nonfiction
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan



  1. Christina Thompson and her family (Maori husband and three sons)
  2. spent 8 weeks traveling across the Pacific, with stops in
  3. Tahiti, Ra’iatea, the Marquesas, the Tuamotu Archipelago, T
  4. onga, Hawai’i, New Zealand, and Vanuatu.
  5. They visited:
  • two points of the Polynesian triangle (Hawai’i and New Zealand);
  • a center of ancient Polynesian culture (Tahiti, Ra’iatea);
  • one of the earliest Polynesian settlements (Tonga);
  • and the most famous Lapita cemetery in the Western Pacific (Vanuatu).

Polynesian Triangle ( 10.000.000 square miles!)


What is the  CORE MESSAGE ?

  1. Problems of Polynesian origins – a great geographical mystery
  2. How did the Sea People spread themselves over the vast ocean (P.Triangle)
  3. The problem is that the events are pre-history, no written records
  4. .…open to interpretation.
  5. Christina Thompson does NOT just follow
  6. ….  James Cook’s three expeditions.
  7. She approaches the origin of the Polynesian ‘Sea People’  from a fresh angle:
  8. NOT what happened…
  9. ….but HOW WE KNOW what happened in the Pacific.
  10. In 20th C science delivers up whole new bodies of information.
  11. In 1970s an experimental voyaging movement emerged.
  12. Scientists used computer simulation the chance of
  13. settling Polynesia by drift voyagages alone was very small.
  14. There had to be some human decision making taken into account.
  15. This  was to show that the ancient Polynesians
  16. …could have purposefully settled the Polynesian Triangle
  17. in double-hulled, voyaging canoes.


What did the Polynesians use to navigate?

  1. Without the aid of sextants or compasses
  2. …the ancient Polynesians navigated their canoes by the
  3. stars and other signs that came from the ocean and sky
  4. for example clouds, swells.


When did the Polynesians explore?

  1. 1200 BC – Polynesians reached Samoa and Tonga 
  2. 300 AD they fanned out to the Marquesas
  3. 400-600 AD heading north to the Hawaiian Islands


Where did the Polynesians come from?

  1. One of the most famous people to investigate
  2. and write about  this was Abraham Fornander (1812 – 1887)
  3. He was a Swedish-born emigrant
  4. …who became an important Hawaiian journalist.
  5. He was committed to the Aryan thesis:
  6. ancestors of Polynesians were a chip of the same block
  7. from which the Hindu, Iranian and Indo-European family
  8. were fashioned.


Strong point:

  1. I knew NOTHING about James Cook’s expeditions
  2. …and this was a great overview of his three journeys.


Strong point:

  1. Thompson makes the book so interesting by discussing
  2. unexpected and closely related topics
  3. to explain the Polynesian Triangle
  4. …Part III, ch 1 “Drowned Continents”
  5. The Belgian voyager, scientist
  6. Jacques-Antoine Moerenhout (1796-1879)
  7. dedicated many years searching for
  8. the origin of the Polynesians and their culture.


Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands


Strong point:  structure

  1. This book was easy to follow…even if you need to
  2. take a break and read something else.
  3. Thompson has divided the book in 6 parts
  4. The Eyewitness (1521-1722)
  5. Connecting the Dots (1764-1778)  James Cook voyages
  6. Why Not Just Ask (1778-1920)
  7. The Rise of Science (1920-1959)
  8. Setting Sail (1947-1980)
  9. What We Know Now (1990-2018) DNA and Dates


Weak point:  (Part II, chapter 4)

  1. Discussions about the Indo-European language family
  2. that is related to the languages used in Polynesia were
  3. took some determination to get through…but i did it.
  4. But this is important to know to discover the origin of
  5. the ‘sea people’ in Polynesia…by means of linguistics.



  1. This book is not ONLY about the Polynesian mariners
  2. but also about the people who over the years have
  3. puzzled over their history
  4. …sailors, linguists, biologists, voyagers, geographers etc.
  5. I did not know Robert Lewis Stevenson visited the
  6. Marquesas Islands!
  7. This was a very interesting book…with some parts that
  8. were amazing
  9. …voyages and methods of
  10. …navigating without compass or sextant,
  11. …other parts a bit soporific (linguistics).
  12. This book is well worth your reading time!
  13. #NonFictionLovers


Last Thoughts:

  1. I recommend the audio book (11 hrs 40 min)
  2. A narrating voice brings life into this very
  3. interesting book.
  4. If you first want get into the Polynesian mood
  5. before you start this book
  6. …sit down (…with the kids) and watch
  7. Disney’s 2016 film Moana!