Another shortlist, this time for something close to home; the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2013. There are several categories of prizes to be awarded. The winners will be announced on 19 May during the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
Christina Stead Prize for Fiction – prize money worth $40,000
- The Voyage by Murray Bail
- The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally
- Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears
- Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse
- Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany (also nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction)
- Animal People by Charlotte Wood
From the shortlist above, you can have your say in the People’s Choice Award – click here to vote
Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction ($40,000 prize money)
- Exile: the Lives and Hopes of Werner Pelz by Roger Averill
- Ben Jonson : a Life by Ian Donaldson
- Dark Night : Walking with McCahon by Martin Edmond
- The Biggest Estate on Earth : How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage
- Double Entry : How the Merchants of Venice Shaped the Modern World – and How Their Invention Could Make or Break the Planet by Jane Gleeson-White
- The Office : a Hard Working History by Gideon Haigh
Keith Slessor Prize for Poetry ($30,00 prize money)
- Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby-Eckermann
- First Light by Kate Fagan
- Open Sesame by Michael Farrell
- The Welfare of My Enemy by Anthony Lawrence
- Ladylike by Kate Lilly
- Here, There and Elsewhere by Vivian Smith
Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature ($30,000 prize money)
- Three Summers by Judith Clarke
- The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant
- Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
- A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
- Into That Forest by Louis Nowra
- Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle
Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature ($30,000 prize money)
- The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey
- Brotherband 1 : The Outcasts by John Flanagan
- Pookie Aleera is Not My Boyfriend by Steven Herrick
- A Bear and a Tree by Stephen Michael King
- The Tender Moments of Saffron Silk by Glenda Millard
- Dragonkeeper Book 4 : Blood Brothers by Carole Wilkinson
There is also a $20,000 Community Relations Commission Award, the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing and the NSW Premier’s Translation Prize.
The book world is agog at the shortlist for the 2012 Costa Book Awards.
Of the 20 books nominated, two are graphic novels!
Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart (Graphic Novel)
Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The Heart Broke In by James Meek
The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder by J W Ironmonger
Snake Ropes by Jess Richards
The Innocents by Francesca Segal
The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood
Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes by Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot (Graphic format)
Patrick Leigh-Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper
The Crocodile By The Door: The Story of a House, a Farm and a Family by Selina Guinness
Serving Victoria: Life In The Royal Household by Kate Hubbard
The World’s Two Smallest Humans by Julia Copus
People Who Like Meatballs by Selima Hill
The Overhaul by Kathleen Jamie
The Seeing by Diana Hendry
What’s Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton
If You’re Reading This . . . Last letters from the front line by Sian Price, Forward by Saul Kelly (2011) Frontline Books, London, 292 pages including Bibliography and Index
Found on the Adult Non-Fiction shelves at 355.00922 PRI
A collection of farewell letters written by soldiers as they faced the possibility of imminent death.
Starting with the Napoleonic wars and coming up to the current war in Afghanistan via the American Civil War, the Zulu and Boer Wars, World Wars I and II, the Falklands War and Iraq Wars Sian Price gives us the background to each conflict, an overview of the kinds of letters the soldiers were writing – very religious in those early wars, more intent on relationships and in different formats as we come nearer the present day – before giving us some examples of letters written to loved ones by soldiers who were killed, and by those who survived.
With these letters we get the story behind the impersonal ‘another soldier killed in combat. Next of kin have been informed’ report. Even though, in those early conflicts especially, conditions could be very harsh, often there was a shortage of paper, it was difficult to carry ink and pencils broke. Nevertheless the last thoughts of soldiers as they faced the possibility of imminent death was of their loved ones and of home and they made arrangements to ensure these thoughts were conveyed to their loved ones.
“Now sweetheart goodbye for the present if it comes to handfighting later, I hope I shall not disgrace you and you will know darling that if anything happens to me I thought of you and loved you to the last.” Major-General John Emerson, Whatron Headlam (Boer War) , survived, (p112)
Another constant theme is that soldiers believe strongly in what they are doing and were prepared to make that supreme sacrifice for the sake of their country and their families. I know this is true of modern day soldiers too, Australian soldiers in Afghanistan have no doubt their mission is an honourable one and they are carrying out the jobs they have been trained to do, and which they love, to the best of their ability.
“It may cost me my life and a many more. That will only be the fortune of war. My life I set no store by at all.” – Private Charles Stanley, killed at Waterloo, 18 June 1815 (p.32)
This is a very poignant read. I found it more and more difficult to read the nearer we come to the present day. I am the daughter and grand-daughter of soldiers, wife of an ex-soldier and mother of an Army Reservist. These letters came very close to home. You may have seen me some days, on the verandah of Braemar, sniffling away. They are also oddly uplifting as they also show soldiers on both sides of a conflict behaving in a dignified, loving way.
John Hughes : The Idea of Home : autobiographical essays
Emily Mackie : And This is True
Mark O’Flynn : Untested Cures for Modern Day Ailments
Royal Mistresses of the House of Hanover-Windsor by Susanna de Vries
Published in 2011 by Pirgos Press, 425pp incl. endnotes and index.
Found on the Adult Non-Fiction shelves at 941.07 DEV
Summary : We late 20th and early 21st century mortals may have been scandalised and/or titillated by the sexual shenanigans of Britain’s younger royals, Squidy- and Camilla-gate but marital infidelity among a class that relied on dynastic rather than love matches pre-dates written history. There is a wealth of material to draw on in terms of extra-marital affairs in the British royal family but Susanna de Vries in this book limits herself to the House of Hanover (that became Windsor during WWI).
Starting with Countess Melusine von der Schulenburg, mistress of King George I who succeeded the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, in 1714, we move through another eight mistresses* and three royals** before arriving at Prince Charles’ mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall. Camilla is the only former mistress who eventually (legally) married her prince.
We read that many of these princes treated their mistresses appallingly, leaving them destitute when the affair came to an end but equally many of the mistresses used their royal ‘friend’ as a source of cash and cachet. We learn that George IV as Prince of Wales used to keep souvenirs of public hair from his mistresses (“enough to stuff a mattress” apparently) which was discovered after his death. We can take warning from the stories of unloved princes such as the later Edward VIII who, alternately hit and then sexually molested by his nanny, developed some odd sexual needs and relished being dominated by Mrs Simpson.
Review : I have rarely been so thoroughly frustrated by a book as I have by this one by Susanna de Vries. This book seems to have gone to publication without benefit of either editor or proof-reader.
There is certainly plenty of information for Susanna de Vries to give us on these naughty royals, much of it interesting. Unfortunately it reads like a first draft where Mrs de Vries has just been writing down all her thoughts before putting them in good order. The number of repetitions became really annoying, most within a couple of pages of each other. For example, on p26 we are told that “before the passing of the Married Woman’s Property Act in 1875, all money earned by a wife was deemed to be the property of the husband.” By p31 we are expected to have forgotten this already (carried away by all the goings-on perhaps) and are told again, “before the passing of the important Married Woman’s Property Act in 1875 any money a wife earned was legally the property of her husband.”
The worst instance comes on pp 273-274 where in one paragraph we are told, “Enid [Furness] had been raised on a property in New South Wales and was a crack shot and a brilliant horsewoman’” In the next paragraph, and within five lines, we have to be reminded, “raised in New South Wales as a bush girl, Enid Lindeman was a crack shot and a brilliant horsewoman.” Even this peri-menopausal reviewer, absent-minded enough to leave her handbag, glasses and other items all over the place and arrive in a room without a clue why she went there, could retain information that long. And not only did the memoirs of Jennie Churchill ‘conceal more than they revealed’, so did those of Daisy Brooke and Wallis Simpson. These are just a very, very few of the repetitions that pepper the book.
My other bug-bear is the number of errors of spelling and fact that should have been picked up and which spoiled further my enjoyment of the stories being told. Repeatedly, one or other of the wives or mistresses were said to have ‘born‘ one or more children, eg. p33 “Queen Charlotte had born her husband 17 children.” On p57 “Maria stayed with a former school friends“. Several times ‘diner‘ is printed instead of ‘dinner.’ Proof that spell checkers cannot be trusted.
On p58 we are expected to ignore that ”the Prince of Wales, a handsome youth, six years younger than Maria [Fitzherbert]” had aged much more swiftly than his lover for by p66 “Maria truly believed she did love the Prince of Wales and was prepared to overlook the fact that he was six years her senior.” It’s a hard life being a prince it seems. And on p85 Princess Charlotte, heir to George IV, died prematurely in “1917″ – that should read 1817 – it was the death of Princess Charlotte shortly after giving birth to a stillborn son that precipitated the hasty marriage of the parents of Queen Victoria in a race to sire the next heir.
By the time I’d ploughed my way through the whole book, it fairly bristled with post-it notes!
Susanna de Vries has been a fairly prolific writer but if this is an example of her writing I am not inclined to pursue them. I don’t think my nerves would take it.
Reviewed by : Alba
* Mary Darby Robinson, Maria Fitzherbert, Lady Jennie Churchill, Lady Daisy Brooke, Alice Keppel, Freda Dudley Ward, Lady Thelma Morgan Furness, Wallis Simpson
** George IV, Edward VII and Edward VIII