Tuesday 28 May 2019

Notes from Eve Abbey • June 2019

 We're 50!

I have just read and thoroughly enjoyed the third book by Carrie Tiffany who is a most original Australian writer. This latest one is called Exploded View, by which is meant the sort of diagrams you might find in a car manual. It all ties in.

The story is told in the voice of an adolescent girl who has not spoken for many weeks. Most of the time the family is securely placed in a car on a long drive, perhaps to Perth. The narrator is very imaginative and makes many observant and amusing remarks in her head but there is an atmosphere of fear. Something bad is happening and bit by bit it becomes clear.

Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany

I recommend all three of her books which also include Mateship with Birds (which was the winner of the first Stella Prize in 2013 and also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award in the same year) and Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living, her debut which also took out a slew of awards and shortlistings.

Carrie Tiffany recently appeared at the 2019 Sydney Writers’ Festival and I made sure I got a ticket for that session.

Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany

Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany

I’ve also had a good time reading an exciting thriller written by Catherine Steadman called Something in the Water. It begins with the narrator digging a grave for her husband in the Norfolk Woods. How did this come about? Short sharp sentences. All very exciting. The author is also an actress who appeared in Downton Abbey, as Mabel Lane Fox (I think she was a rival to Lady Mary in the marriage stakes in the later episodes).

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

I’ve already reminded you in my previous post, that on Abbey’s Home Page there are separate squares for you to check the stock we have here for Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press. Other very useful boxes are the box directing you to Penguin Black Classics and Popular Penguins. You can choose to browse through the 'in stock' titles or to look at the entire wonderful range. We can, of course, order any title for you for prompt delivery.

Happy reading, Eve

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Notes from Eve Abbey • April 2019

 We're 50!

I’ve just eagerly read the final book in Steven Carroll’s wonderful Glenroy series. This one is set in 1917 Melbourne when the city is in a ferment of discussion about whether to accept conscription or not. The central character is Maryanne, Michael’s grandmother. She is almost forty, pregnant and unmarried. A stalwart character who is determined to keep her child (who becomes Vic) and not give him up to the Church as expected. It is called The Year of the Beast and although sixth in the series it is a prequel. You have yet to meet engine-driver Vic, wife Rita and their son Michael, their neighbours and workmates, living in a newly emerging suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne. 

The Year of the Beast by Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll’s style is quite addictive. Short rhythmic sentences, graceful and tender prose. If you haven’t met these life-like characters yet you have a treat in store. The Art of the Engine Driver and The Gift of Speed, should be read first, in my opinion, while the other titles can be read in any order. They are The Time We Have Taken, Forever Young and Spirit of Progress. Steven is a Miles Franklin Award winner as well as several other big prizes. He is Australia’s John Updike and I think these books are marvellous.

The Art of the Engine Driver by Steven Carroll The Gift of Speed by Steven Carroll

The Time We Have Taken by Steven Carroll Spirit of Progress by Steven Carroll

Forever Young by Steven Carroll

Carroll has written another series all about T.S.Eliot. Those titles are The Lost Life, A World of Other People and A New England Affair. Take your pick! Enjoyment guaranteed.

The Lost Life by Steven Carroll

A World of Other People by Steven Carroll A New England Affair by Steven Carroll

Steven spoke at Abbey's in 2011 on the writing of Spirit of Progress. Excerpts:

Prize winning Poet, Barry Hill wrote a glowing report in the Australian Review last Saturday for The Poems Vol.III in the Cambridge Edition of The Works of D. H. Lawrence, which includes Uncollected Poems and Early Versions. It is not cheap, although we have sold some already. He says "Dig into Lawrence dear readers. Fork out for this book. It is all process, and contemporary".

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of D. H. Lawrence The Poems: Vol III Uncollected Poems and Early Versions

Bear in mind that Abbey’s carries a very extensive range of books published by Cambridge University Press especially, and also from Oxford University Press. On our website homepage there are currently two links, one each for Cambridge and Oxford, showing you all the titles in stock. You will be amazed! And if we are out of stock we can get it for you quickly.

Happy reading, Eve

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

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: www.nationalwomenslibrary.org.au

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

Friday 4 January 2019

Notes from Eve Abbey • January 2019

 We're 50 this year!

I have already recommended to you the books written by newish Australian writer Jock Serong. First he wrote two thrillers called Quota and The Rules of Backyard Cricket and then On the Java Ridge, another thriller about asylum seekers and now he offers a terrific piece of historical fiction. It is called Preservation and is based on the wreck of the Sydney Cove which happened at the entrance to Bass Street in 1797.

The survivors from this wreck set off in a longboat to get help from Sydney but they were again shipwrecked. The survivors from this second shipwreck, including some lascars, then set off to walk 300 miles to Sydney. Only three people reached Sydney. One of these people published a diary of the trek which was published in a newspaper at the time.

Jock Serong has taken this epic story and with great care given us his version of the events. You can bet your bottom dollar this is thrilling but not a thriller. Wonderful characters include the earnest assistant to Governor Hunter who is deputed to find out the truth from the arrivals, and his self-confident wife, as well as the most evil baddie you can ever hope for.

Contact with the indigenous people is nicely handled and all ends well when a rescue ship is sent down to Preservation Island where the original survivors are still clinging to hope. This forgotten shipwreck will now be well-remembered I am sure.


Biologist James Watson, 1962 Nobel Prize co-winner with Francis Crick for discovering the double-helix form of DNA has been in trouble again over his views about racial intelligence. You can find his famous story about the decoding of DNA on the shelves at Abbey’s. It is called Double-Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA. Full of gossip and rivalry, this was a best seller for us at the time.

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

There was talk that they had used X-Ray photographs done by Rosalind Franklin, without her permission, and there was a book about this, Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA. Her family were involved with the firm of Routledge and Kegan Paul and I recall going to lunch with her brother who had come to Sydney to promote their books.

Rosalind Franklin

I’ve been to see Mary Poppins Returns and can assure you it is totally terrific. Indulge.

Mary Poppins

Abbey's Summer Reading 2018 Catalogue

Happy New Year,

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Thursday 13 December 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • December 2018

 We're 50 this year!

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. I hope all goes well for you and that Abbey’s will see another Fifty Years contributing to the culture in Sydney.

Consider this new big book on an everlasting topic. It is Rome: Eternal City by Ferdinand Addis who studied Classics at Oxford and was a film-maker and journalist before he decided to be a historian. He chooses significant moments in Rome’s 3000 years of history and links these with a lively narrative so that he presents a history of Rome for a new generation of readers. When I tell you that the final scene is the opening of Fellini’s movie La Dolce Vita in1960 you will see he writes about both High Art and Low Life.

Put aside (for now) Edward Gibbons’ famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, available in Penguin Classics in various volumes or the 1 volume Abridgement. Addis' book is an easier companion if you are planning to visit the exhibition Rome and Empire in Canberra at the National Museum, which is on until 3rd February 2019. There is also an audio version of the Gibbon abridgement of Decline and Fall read by David Timson.

I think there are still fans around for the George Johnston and Charmian Clift saga. They will like a new book by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell. It is called Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964. Enjoy - and you can still buy a copy of My Brother Jack or Charmian Clift’s Mermaids Singing & Peel Me a Lotus at Abbey’s.

The Zig at Abbey's

I hope you are able to visit the shop, which is near the Town Hall, during the holidays. There are so many interesting books for you to choose from, not just the latest best sellers. Remember, if you are looking at Abbey’s lively database online, that you can choose to show only those books currently in stock if you click down the side.

Abbey's shopfront October 2018

Upstairs on the First Floor, Language Book Centre has DVD’s and both fiction and non-fiction in other languages as well as the usual 'teach yourself' text books. GALAXY Bookshop, also upstairs has an amazing array of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Paranormal Romance. They also have lots of puzzles, games, cards and POP! figurines. Ask a bookseller for advice if you are not a Sci-Fi reader yourself. There’s a lift in the foyer if you want to avoid the stairs.

Stormtrooper guards the stairway entrance to GALAXY

Abbey's Summer Reading 2018 Catalogue

Enjoy yourself, make book-buying your best good deed at Christmas,

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers