Desert Queen: the many lives and loves of Daisy Bates

Desert Queen: the many lives and loves of Daisy Bates

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Daisy Bates in not an easy biography subject. The woman built a web of lies around herself when she was younger, and later in life burned all her personal papers. Susanna de Vries has done a solid job researching, unraveling and telling the story of this fascinating woman. Desert Queen isn’t a great biography, but it’s highly readable and you can’t really go wrong with the subject matter.

Daisy Bates emigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1883. Aware that her prospects were dim, she lied about her family and background, in the hope of securing herself a favorable marriage. Instead, she briefly married Breaker Morant, followed by two bigamous marriages, and had her only child, Arnold. She became a journalist, and later an anthropologist, albeit an unrecognized one in academic circles.

It was her work with Australia’s indigenous people that set her apart from other women of her time. She lived in a tent in harsh conditions and spent years writing down their stories. She recorded hunting territories and boundaries, and these records are used today in land rights claims. She nursed and fed sick aboriginal people, using her time with them to gather information about their cultural practices and languages. Her work remains controversial. She self-funded all her work, often writing pieces about aboriginal cannibalism, knowing it would sell, but which ultimately harmed her anthropological reputation.

De Vries does a solid job at capturing both the fascinating and frustrating aspects of this complex character, but I had some problems with the book. I didn’t like how she regularly assumed to know how Daisy felt, despite there being no record of that moment. Also, she puts forward a couple of pretty outrageous theories as if they are fact. And the final part of the book, which tells of Daisy’s spiral into dementia might as well be fiction. Daisy was never diagnosed with dementia.

This aside, it’s an interesting tale about a fascinating woman. I do love my female traveller tales, and Daisy’s story is a good one, and Desert Queen a decent telling of it.

Out of all your memories… which one would you save?

Out of all your memories… which one would you save?

 

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We’ve all been asked this question before: what one thing would you save from a burning house? What ‘thing” do you value most? I’ve never heard anyone say, “My new flatscreen TV.” Or “My Thermomix.” Most people I know say photo albums.

Photo albums seem to be the most valuable thing to most people I know. But a photo album is a possession that sits in that grey zone… it’s not so much an object as a remembrance. A photo album is a thing that triggers a memory—and it’s the memory we value most.

So what if your house was on fire… and you had to rescue a memory? All other memories would be at risk… but this one would be safe.

What memory would you choose?

 

The Fault in Our Stars review

The Fault in Our Stars review

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I bought The Fault in Our Stars for my stepson for his birthday. Fortunately he’s a fast reader and I didn’t have to wait long to get my hands on it.

This is a beautiful book. John Green has delivered a touching, wise tale. It’s smart, and pulls all the right strings emotionally. There was nothing groundbreaking about the book, but it is a lovely story, well told.

16-year-old Hazel meets Augustus Waters at a cancer support group and they fall in love. Together, they search for the author of a book she adores, and when they find him living in Amsterdam, they use the equivalent of the Make A Wish foundation to travel there to meet him.

I’d heard and read quite a lot about The Fault in Our Stars before reading it, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. However, a lot of people I know talked about how much they cried at the end of this book, and considering I’m a huge sop, I had the tissues ready. I shed a few tears throughout, but to me the end wasn’t sad. It wasn’t happy either. It just was… It didn’t tear me apart… instead, the story, and the characters linger.

I loved the idea that these characters track down an author because they need to know what happened to the characters from their favourite book, after the story had ended. I’m curious to know how these characters fare after this book ends. (Especially Hazel’s parents.) But I’ll refrain from asking John Green.

A wonderful read. With Hazel travelling to Amsterdam, the book even falls into the Roadmance category.

I’m now looking forward to the movie.

 

Review for All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull

Review for All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull

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All Good Things is Sarah Turnbull’s long awaited follow up book to her bestseller, Almost French. I adored Almost French. It was a rather rollicking read, where love and Paris and adventure dripped from each page and made me want some of it myself. So I was excited to hear she’d released another book, about her and her husband Frederic’s move to Tahiti.

All Good Things is very different. Not worse, but different. She’s different. Older, wiser, perhaps more damaged by disappointment. I downloaded this book expecting a Take Two type of read, only this time set in Tahiti, but instead found myself immersed in the story of a woman who was battling fertility treatments and the unfulfilled desire to be a mother. And yes, the couple moved to Tahiti during this time, so the book was also about that, and the isolation she felt while she was there.

Despite these more serious themes, once again it’s well written and I read it in a day, wanting to know how this journey, both geographically and internally, turned out for Sarah. I won’t give away too much, but I cried.

Not quite what I was expecting, but a lovely read all the same. Definitely a Roadmance read.

3.5 stars.

Hey Over 45 Year-Olds: Grow into yourself!

Hey Over 45 Year-Olds: Grow into yourself!

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I just read this fabulous piece by Wendy Harmer. Those of you who have read my book The Happy Endings Book Club will know how I feel about aging, and embracing that process. One of the seven stories in the book is about Tilda, who has “invisibility”, a condition common in women over 45-years. Tilda goes on a journey, both internally and geographically, to beat this insidious disease.

This Madonna commercial triggered Wendy Harmer’s hilarious but oh so spot on piece. Be warned… it has offensive content. It has a fifty something year old women writhing around pretending to be twenty and selling the idea that that is how we all should be. For some reason the clip isn’t inserting… so…

… here’s the link.

I just turned 45. I’m not overly comfortable with the aging process, but I’m getting there. Getting work done for me means working on embracing ageing, not erasing it. I have been the maiden. I am the mother… I will move into the crone with grace.

Just yesterday I was in my car waiting for a woman to cross the road. This woman has a very severe eating disorder. I’ve seen this woman around a lot, and always feel for the journey she’s on. But in that moment, as I watched her yesterday, I looked down at my own body and felt so much love for it. It was one of those profound moments where you feel connected to everything, yourself especially. Love.

I do love my body. It has been good to me. It had its moment of glory… which of course I didn’t appreciate at the time. (Youth is wasted on the young.) I can see it ageing, losing that youth, but gaining other things in it’s place. I’m more aware of the workings of my body, my mind, my spirit now. I sense issues as they come up. I’m more comfortable. I spend a lot of time naked, wandering the house, hanging out (literally) with my guy. I’m more sexually free and aware than I’ve ever been.

Every time I see a woman like Madonna, I think “You must really hate getting older.” And what a waste of time to feel that way. We spend more of our lives being older than being young, so why deny it? Why not embrace it? It comes with so much knowledge, including the knowledge that you don’t know much at all. There’s freedom in that.

The only issue I have with Wendy Harmer’s blog is the title: “Hey Over 45 Year-Olds: Grow Up!”

I’d prefer to “grow in.” Into my aging skin. Into my aging body. Into my hard earned wisdom. Into me, each and every day.

I’m growing into myself. Are you?

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Becoming invisible as we age

Becoming invisible as we age

Just woke up and I'm 45!
Just woke up and I’m 45!

This blog was first posted on andrea-loveis. Drop by and check this lovely site out.

I’m not sure when I started disappearing. One minute I was clearly visible, with the confidence of a woman who knows that. The next… something had shifted. I felt invisible. More than that… I quickly expected that others wouldn’t see me either.

They didn’t. Heads failed to turn. I was often overlooked in a queue. But it was more than that. Suddenly my quirky collection of vintage clothing seemed ridiculous. I would enter certain restaurants or bars and feel like a dinosaur. Women around me were getting work on their face. For some it is subtle, but others look ridiculous. Surely that isn’t the alternative to my wrinkles?

It was an internal shift as well, not just physical. At a point in my life when I really knew myself, I wasn’t sure what to do with that hard earned wisdom. It wasn’t valued. Youth is celebrated, embraced, feted. Women my age often feel … invisible.

Welcome to womanhood in the forties. Not everyone feels invisible, but many do. I know. I’ve discussed this with countless women: friends, acquaintances, and strangers at parties. It’s something I experienced myself, with mounting dismay, until earlier this year I was handed a gift:

I was told I was going blind.

Fortunately for me, I was misdiagnosed. My eyesight is fine, however it took three months and further tests to confirm this. During these three months something interesting happened to me. For the first time in forever… I looked in the mirror and didn’t criticize myself. I looked at my body and I liked what I saw. The possibility of losing my sight provided me with greater insight.

The idea that I wouldn’t see myself age horrified me. And if that was so … then why would each new wrinkle be anything but a celebration.

If I want to see myself age… then why erase that age? Why try to beat it, deny it or ignore it? Why not fully and utterly embrace it? As I write in my novel, The Happy Endings Book Club, we should welcome ageing. It’s a privilege denied to many.

The way we see ourselves and the world around us is a major theme I explore in The Happy Endings Book Club. All of the seven female characters experience a shift in perception that alters their world. That shift is different for each character.

Paige misses glimpsing the magic in the world. Sadie doesn’t see the beauty inside people. Amanda wonders what she ever saw in her ex husband. Michi can’t bear looking at her family, while Clementine is blind to what’s right in front of her. And Eva looks for romance in all the wrong places.

But it’s Tilda I related to most. She literally can’t see herself. And once you’ve lost sight of yourself, how can you expect others to see you?

I’m visible again. It took the threat of losing my sight for me to see myself clearly. I like what I see now.

Sally From Oz reviews Happy Endings

Sally From Oz reviews Happy Endings

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. Life has been hectic and any spare time is spent writing my next book. However I’ve just seen this lovely review from Sally From Oz.

This is my have part of it. I always love it when readers enjoy my locations:

Author Jane Tara must have magical powers of her own I swear because her settings are so wonderfully described you can easily imagine yourself there. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when Jane took a character to the Christmas markets in Vienna, in falling snow, ***sigh*** is now firmly on my wish list of places to visit. From London to Australia, Paris to New York the women all eventually turn their lives around, but many it is not as they expected.

Click here to read the rest of the review and to check out Sally’s site.

My Christmas book…
My Christmas book…

 

 

 

To Each Their Own gave Happy Endings 4*

Here’s a lovely review from To Each Their Own Reviews.

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My thoughts:

This was a sweet, startling efficient book. It’s basically a collection of stories featuring different women achieving their own happy ending. There’s women in all different stages of life here, with very different romantic and family backgrounds.

What I found most incredible about this book was how quickly each story was communicated, but always in such a way that it tugged on my heart strings. I never felt the tale of romance was rushed, I was always satisfied by it.  I did shed a few tears during Eva’s story, it was a direct emotional bullseye, which was pretty incredible given that it only occupied thirteen pages of the book. Excellent writing, smart story-telling. I was really entertained and impressed by how much was packed into each chapter.

There’s a thread of the paranormal or magical weaving throughout the story. I did find it a little strange in that some of the stories feature a fantastical element and others don’t. It was a bit jarring for me to move from a less fantastical tale to a more fantastical one. I think if there’d been a more even distribution across the book, it would have been less strange.

The other thing that kind of irked me was that though the book club connects everyone together, it was really only a reference point. I kind of wanted books with happy endings to feature more prominently. Still, this was definitely a book store that I could appreciate, and a book club I would *love* to participate in.

The Bottom Line:

Pick this one up. It’s a sweet collection of generally happy, Christmas-time stories. It makes some interesting points about women, love, families and I think it’s well worth a read.

4 stars

For fans of contemporary romance, the paranormal/fantastical, happy endings

I love this review!

This is a seriously great review from Random Book Muses. I love it.

Happy Endings

This book is weird. That’s my opinion, and it’s not to say the book is bad, because it’s not. The book is well written and clever; it’s just the quirkiest, oddest book I’ve ever read. I was slogging through it, not enjoying it at all, when all of a sudden at 75% of the way through, I got it. I understood. And I burst into tears as all the problems of all the characters met inside my mind and exploded there. I’m not sure if that made me ENJOY the book any more than before, but I sure do appreciate it now.

The Happy Endings Book Club is a group of women who need a little encouragement and uplifting. They’re fading into the background of life and need some verve. Some of the women find “life” in reality, and some find it in fantasy: fairly lands and magic.

The fantasy world in the novel isn’t isolated like Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Instead, it’s part of the regular world… More like fantastical beings existing with all their powers in the mortal world. And while that allows great freedom in the plot, it also confuses a linear realist like me!

I liked the characters, the plot lines, the endings and new beginnings. I had a tough time with the magic, the fairyland, and the special powers…. but only because those are out of my comfort zone. This clever novel opened my eyes and gave me a lot to think about.