A Book About The Choices Women Make



An interesting thing happened while I was reading Amy Brown’s debut novel. Whereas normally I subconsciously create a house for the book’s characters to live in based on descriptions and readerly intuition (these guys would totally be mid-century enthusiasts and have a veggie garden etc), I instead plonked Brown’s characters in the heart of my own home. There was her protagonist building lego castles with her child on my rug. And her husband, sneaking off to my desk to work on his novel before the dishes were done and the bedtime routine completed.

The first section belongs to Ida. In her late thirties and married to a man who seems to participate in family life only when it suits him or he is told to, Ida has taken on the care of their four-year-old and the lion’s share of the household duties by default. Originally from New Zealand, she has made adjustments to her career in academia so that her husband can take up a job at a Melbourne University to pursue his own academic career.

Looming large over all three stories is Stella Miles Franklin herself, who lived an expansive life defined by art, freedom and a disregard for patriarchy. The author’s first known literary work was a verse named Man’s a Fool, written when she was eight. A pioneering feminist and literary heavyweight in the making indeed.

“It felt like a private conversation I was having with myself and the one I’ve had with every woman I know many times over (in this way it would make a great book club selection)."

– Laura Brading,  Books Editor

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