Spell the Month in Books | April

Better late than never!

Every single month so far I have forgotten this meme from Jana’s Reviews From the Stacks, until I spy Jennifer @Tasmanian Bibliophile at Large or Lisa @ANZLit Lovers post.

I love compiling this list as it gives me a good excuse to go back over my older posts, checking them for missing links, weird formatting and other inconsistencies that occured during the changeover from Blogger to WordPress a couple of years ago.

Jana often includes a theme to add an extra spice to the challenge – this month is FREE. So I will pick my own theme – all Australian books.


The Anchoress | Robyn Cadwallader

A 2015 debut about a medieval woman who decided to leave society and shut herself away in a religious cell attached to her local church.

Watching Sarah grow into her role as anchoress is at the heart of this story. Cadwallader painfully captures the various emotional states that Sarah goes through to achieve peace of mind.


Picnic at Hanging Rock | Joan Lindsay

First published in 1967, this fictitious, and deliberately ambiguous, story about a Valentine’s picnic in 1900 by a group of school girls and their teachers, blurred the line between fact and fiction. For years, many people in Australia wondered if this story was based on real events. The 1975 Peter Weir movie only increased the speculation.

At every step the prospect ahead grew more enchanting with added detail of crenellated crags and lichen-patterned stone. Now a mountain laurel glossy above the dogwood’s dusty silver leaves, now a dark slit between two rocks where maidenhair fern trembled like green lace.


Reckoning | Magda Szubanski

A powerful memoir about growing up with your parent’s trauma as a second generation refugee from a war torn country.

[She] talked about loneliness and a sense of exclusion and how [her] family used humour to cover up their pain. [She] discussed the role of gratitude and stoicism and survivor guilt…And [she] spoke with great affection and understanding about [her] parents.


In the Garden of Fugitives | Ceridwen Dovey

A fascinating story that explores the ruins of Pompeii, life in country town NSW, Apartheid in South Africa and introduced me to the idea of psychohistorians.

The rallying cry of psychohistorians is that history repeats itself because of the propulsive effects of humiliation….They believe that the traumatised country, like the traumatised individual, has a psyche that is fractured. It has an unconscious. It buries painful memories, It indulges wishful fantasies through national myths….The Germans have developed an entire vocabulary and classification system for the different kinds of guilt suffered by different generations.


The Last Days of Ava Langdon | Mark O’Flynn

O’Flynn has written a fcitionalised account of the final years of Eve Langley’s life in this mesmerising story about loneliness, creativity and madness.

Ava is eccentric, mentally unstable and colourful. She would now be labelled as having gender identity confusion. O’Flynn uses flashes of clarity to earlier times to gently reveal her story. His writes with a great deal of affection, empathy and respect for his invented character and her real-life counterpart. Most of the time I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Have you read of these books? Or have a I tempted you to try one for yourself?

This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first storytellers.

12 thoughts on “Spell the Month in Books | April

  1. Yaaaay, Brona, and what a great list it is.
    I always feel a pang when I see The Anchoress. I know she’s a brilliant writer, and I read and loved Book of Colours, but I’m claustrophobic and I cannot read a book that involves being in a confined space. It must be 40+ years since I read Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea Series and there’s a bit in that where the wizard is trapped underground and I *still* wake up occasionally from nightmares reliving it. That’s the power of words on a page! It happened again this week after I watched Anh Do’s program about the Thai cave rescue. I shouldn’t have watched it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand completely Lisa.
      I didn’t know I was prone to claustrophobia until Egypt and the pyramid tour. I made it about 10m down the hot, airless walkway and turned around to join the other handful of people on the tour who chose to walk around the pyramid instead!
      I can be in smallish enclosed spaces if there is a window or vent for air or a door I can easily leave by, or cold. I could never go caving though, whatever the temp, the spaces are too confined for my comfort.


      1. I wasn’t until I went on one of those underground mine tours — fortunately not with a school group then —and the guide thought it would be funny to turn the lights off. I can still smell it, though it might be my panic that I can smell.
        I was always the teacher who ‘reluctantly’ stayed up top with the students who didn’t want to go down.
        But of all the phobias to have, claustrophobia is the one that makes the most sense. People were not designed to be confined in small spaces!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Apart from the Lindsay book I’m unfortunately unfamiliar with the others but the Ceridwen Dovey (now there’s a very Welsh name!) does sound appealing. I found I could spell the month in initial letters of books principally read this year: ‘Argonauts of the Air’ (Wells), Planet of Exile (Le Guin), Ronia the Robber’s Daughter (Astrid Lindgren), Ivanhoe (Scott’s novel in a graphic version) and Lord of the Rings (I’ve still to finish the appendices).


    1. OMG the appendices! You are a true devotee!!

      Ceridwen Dovey’s family is from South Africa, but her parents loved How Green Was My Valley. It’s also why Bronwyn/Bronwen became a popular name in Australia after the war.

      Liked by 2 people

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