Thursday, 28 February 2019

Notes from Eve Abbey • March 2019

 We're 50!

I recently went to a good talk in the City of Sydney Library housed in our wonderful Customs House at Circular Quay. It was put on by the Jessie Street National Women’s Library which is happily housed in Harris Street, Ultimo. The Jessie Street Library, named in honour of Lady Street, feminist and campaigner for peace and human rights, part of the famous Street family dynasty, is thirty years old now. If you would like to make use of their material or offer yourself as a volunteer please consult their website:

Her Mother's Daughter: A Memoir

The speaker was the much-admired author Nadia Wheatley who was talking about her new book named Her Mother’s Daughter. Nadia’s mother was an Army nurse who later worked for UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency) in Europe, so was intimately involved in the administration and migration of Displaced Persons after the Second World War. She did not marry until she was in her forties but did have two children. Unfortunately she died when Nadia was about 10 so this book has been a sort of detective trail following up on her many war-time letters. It was a very touching talk and I am greatly enjoying the book which amounts to a social history of women’s lives during the Cold War.

Nadia is best known for her books for children, including Five Times Dizzy & Dancing in the Anzac Deli (two stories about the adventures of kids in an inner-city neighbourhood which is now regarded as an Australian classic) as well as two tales telling Australian History for children and young adults, called My Place or The House that was Eureka. Her biography of another famous Australian writer, The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift, is also very successful and I have a signed copy on my shelf at home.

Five Times Dizzy and Dancing in the ANZAC Deli My Place

The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift The House That Was Eureka

Let me recommend to you two fine, sane and sensible female writers, from the next generation. Mandy Sayer's recent book, Misfits & Me, is a collection of long essays about unusual people. Mandy’s own unusual childhood is recalled in Dreamtime Alice, which won the National Biography Award, describing her travels in America tap-dancing in the street while her jazz drummer father provided the backdrop. Last year she published Australian Gypsies: Their Secret History, which is very well received. She is married to writer and playwright Louis Nowra and they live in Kings Cross, opposite each other on the same road, happily apart and with their dogs Basil and Coco.

Misfits & Me: Collected Non-Fiction

Dreamtime Alice Australian Gypsies: Their secret history

The other writer I want to suggest is Alice Pungthe child of Chinese parents who escaped from Kampuchea to lead an unusual and entrepreneurial life in Australia. Alice has written a first memoir called Unpolished Gem as well as Her Father’s Daughter plus a novel, Laurinda, a young adult novel about attending a girls’ high school, as well as On John Marsden. No doubt because of the last title she has ended up in Literary Criticism on Abbey’s shelves so you may well not find her at first. But she has a fascinating story to tell and tells it very well. Her latest book is Close to Home: Selected Writings where she muses on various episodes in the life of refugees.

Close to Home: Selected Writings

Unpolished Gem Laurinda

Keep well, Eve

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Notes from Eve Abbey • February 2019

 We're 50!

Anne Summers’ new memoir, Unfettered and Aliveis an exciting memoir of a principled life. Proud Feminist, journalist, bureaucrat, media mogul and Chairman of the International Board of Greenpeace are just some of her adventures. Anne was head of the Office of the Status of Women in the Hawke Government and was later invited to be a policy advisor for Paul Keating, to encourage the votes of women.

Some thrilling stories of meeting the rich and famous in New York, or lunching in the White House with Barbara Bush, not least her Management Buy Out, with Sandra Yates in 1987, of the Ms and Sassy magazines. They were only the second women in America to achieve a Management Buy Out but soon faced impossible difficulties when a consumer boycott against Sassy magazine became very effective and most of the big advertisers cancelled their bookings. Ironically the offending material had come from Dolly magazine in Australia where it had raised no problems.

This is a frank and open story. Anne admits being a magazine editor was a great job as a magazine editor, like a ship’s captain, is one of the few places left where you can exercise absolute power! If you have already read the first part of her life story, Ducks on the Pond, or have read her famous first book Damned Whores and God’s Police you will know that she is an especially vivid writer.

Unfettered and Alive

With Australia Day for 2019 just behind usthere is a novel with the interesting title, This Imaginary Feeling of Being Australian. Written by Michael Nicholson, younger brother of the cartoonist on The Australian, this is a very amusing satire in which someone has ordered 150 submarines for the Government instead of 15! Australia has become a Naval Power, the Greens are swept into Government and Bob Brown is President.

This Imaginary Feeling of Being Australian

Are you enjoying the TV serial of Louisa May Alcott’s Little WomenI think it is lovely and went straight to the computer to make certain Abbey’s had stock. I found there were twelve different editions varying from inexpensive paperback through the classics to a large, illustrated hardback. Only at Abbey’s! Although it was written in 1857, the hopes and values in Little Women are still valid today.

Little Women

Enjoy, Eve

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers