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  • • I have a hard time with web-presence. I have a love/hate relationship with my Instagram account. I don't remember the last time I tweeted. • I used to do something like this, a little while ago. I was a writer for an online magazine. There, I waxed lyrical about all things art, culture, and books. I loved it, but I was writing it all in the name of someone else's passion, and I felt disconnected from the people who were reading my words. • This is a way to connect—a place for me to waffle. It’s somewhere I can declare my love of a great many books, curious wonders, and other lovely things. • It’s meant to be messy, just like life is. It’s serious but not. It’s as honest as I can bear to be. • It’s me, chatting. Thanks so much for listening. • // Erin.



    I started reading Emma Glass’ startling debut novel Peach late on Sunday afternoon—the Sunday that came after a handful of days spent cast in the sorrowful shadows of yet another horrifying and utterly senseless act of violence committed against a bright spark of a young woman in Melbourne, where I’m from. Eurydice Dixon was her name, that brilliant woman, and we shouldn’t know her name for the reasons we do now; we should have had the chance to get to know her because she was funny and talented and curious and clever—not because her life was cut short by a monster.

    And so, I think I was already raw, going into Peach. Maybe that’s why it affected me so much. Or maybe that’s just what it is—affecting. I think it probably is, but I can’t tell. I can’t know for sure that my having to put the book down, to take pause, to breathe and brace myself, wasn’t because of the week it’s been. But in any case, and for most women, I think, it would probably be at least a shade as impacting on any day, after any week, as it was for me today.

    I read Peach in a couple of hours. I think you need to read it in one go—not a single sitting, maybe, but over the course of just a day. Because it demands of you to listen—to hear Peach (the namesake character), and to try your best to understand the twisted new form her life, her perspective and sense of self, is taking. And that’s not an easy thing to do, not only because Peach is a difficult book to read, stomach churning and heart-rending as it is, but because the text is unique almost to the point of being nonsensical (in the nonsense sense of literature, I mean).

    The argument could be made that the text is just too cerebral. And what I would say to that is, is that not what coping is? Is it not cerebral? Do we not compartmentalise and try to detach ourselves from that which pains us? Do we, as women, not try to appear braver than we should need to, or stronger than we want to have to be?

    And the other thing I would say is that any assertions of Peach lacking emotionality are plain wrong. Because in my opinion, that’s all that it is. It is a stream of emotional consciousness that doesn’t always make perfect sense, but that’s because it is meant to feel to us, as readers, almost unrefined.

    What Glass does is to incite in us a panic—an unsureness and a fearful kind of loneliness—that brews and bubbles up over the hundred-or-so pages of the book, until it finally boils over at the end. And that’s it; that the revolting kind of dread that so many women feel at too many points over the courses of our day-to-day lives—and Glass captures that perfectly. Imperfectly, but brilliantly.

    Is Peach perfect? No. But does it need to be? Is it not enough to say that Glass manages to rattle her reader and that that in and of itself is a testament to her talents? I think so.

    I was stunned by Peach. I was confused and confounded by it. I was sickened and saddened, infuriated and awed. I was moved by it, and I will not forget it.

    — 

    Peach 
    by Emma Glass 
    Modern & Contemporary Fiction 
    Hardcover, 212 pages 
    Bloomsbury Circus 
    R.R.P: $24.99 

    . Sunday, 17 June 2018 .

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    . Sunday, 10 June 2018 .




    I don’t remember precisely when it was that I first heard about Melissa Broder’s The Pisces, but I know that as soon as I did, I wanted to read it.

    The summary is unlike, frankly, pretty much any other I’ve heard before—and the back cover blurb only just scratches the surface of the fantastically strange story waiting just beyond the pretty teal sleeve.

    If you haven’t heard about it yet (and you’d remember if you had), it goes like this:

    An uproariously funny, gloriously strange, fiercely original tale of love, obsession, sex…and a merman. 
    Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend have a dramatic break-up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety—not in the Greek chorus of women in her love-addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection. 
    Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like take a very unexpected turn. 

    Alright, so…that’s a lot to unpack, but here’s the long and the short of it—I really enjoyed this book. And I’m not entirely sure why.

    Dotted with unexpected mentions of ancient literature—Sappho and the crew—the book is altogether an unexpected delight. Broder knows herself, and in a way that I think a lot of people—myself certainly included—wish they did. Her voice is sure and strong and unapologetically frank. She writes brave, and I like it.

    There are parts of the story that are easy to relate to, on a base level—heartbreak, the feeling of floundering (fish pun completely unintended)—and then there are the parts that are so wild that you can’t help but to just be captivated by the flat-out weirdness of it all.

    As it goes on and I settled into the mania—the far-fetched fantasy and the balls-to-the-wall forthrightness—I actually became really taken with the sheer rawness of Lucy’s story. It is, in some ways, desperately sad. But sometimes life is sad, and being able to explore the spectrum of sadness—how we relate to it and how it manifests in different ways to different people—is as valuable as it is interesting.

    In The Pisces, our protagonist is not perfect—not even nearly. She is pointedly and charmingly unhinged. But it’s not in any exceptional kind of way—she’s just that part of us all that sometimes emerges but that we mostly try to keep secret, hidden; that we’re ashamed of and afraid of and trying to deny is there. But Broder’s found her, that hidden little voice, and fleshed her out into a fully fledged character.

    Lucy is not Goals, by any means, let’s be honest. But she’s also not that far removed from realness—not until, at least, she goes and falls for a lusty merman named Theo. This which obviously brings us to the much talked about sex.

    I don’t understand why sex in literature is sometimes such a touchy subject. I’m not talking about Fifty Shades of Anything—that’s not literature. I’m not sure what that is, actually. But it’s barely worth calling a book. No, I’m talking about intimacy in writing, in good books and okay books and just, really, in books.

    Sex happens. It is a part of life. It is a part of relationships. Not all relationships, but a good chunk of adult relationships. It’s just life. It’s not a big deal. So, why isn’t it tackled more, and tackled better, more often?

    Broder tackles it. She shoves it in our readerly faces, and not all that gracefully, really—and I liked that. I like that she just goes there. It gets weird, sure, and I’ll admit to be being quietly curious about the logistics of sexing it up with a merman, but strangely enough, none of it feels out of place at all in Lucy’s world.

    It fits with the tone of the book, with Broder’s writing, and with the frantic ups and downs of Lucy’s life. Is it graphic? Kind of, but not in a pornographic way. It’s just honest, and honesty is a good thing, I think—especially if we’re addressing the representation of women’s sexuality in mainstream culture. And in that instance, Broder handles it all wonderfully—it’s perfectly imperfect, like in life.

    Sex aside, when it comes down to it, living inside Lucy’s head for two hundred odd pages is a bit of a topsy-turvy experience. She is flawed, but who isn’t? She projects her own insecurities and prejudices onto other people, and since we’re living and seeing the story through her, we inevitably take on some of those faults as we go along. And that makes the read even more interesting. Taking on parts of Lucy’s sadness and anger and confusion both contributes to our understanding of her and her story while at the same time challenging us to reflect on how we relate to her.

    All in all, The Pisces is strangeness on top of weirdness that sidles up to oddness, and in the end, it’s hard to tell what’s true. But it’s the ambiguity and the fantasy of the story that makes it all so unique. 


    The Pisces
    by Melissa Broder
    Modern & Contemporary Fiction
    Paperback, 288 pages
    Bloomsbury
    R.R.P: $29.99

    . Wednesday, 6 June 2018 .



    One of the most beautiful and valuable things reading gives us, is the opportunity to peer into someone else’s life—another experience, another way of being. A different history. And that’s why diversity in reading—not just of stories told, but of authors and subjects—is so important.

    I first heard about Brit Bennett’s The Mothers because I heard that it was good—that people loved it, in fact. That’s why I was interested to read it—because people whose opinions I respect as well as people I don’t know were equally as excited and passionate about getting as many people as they could to pick up and read The Mothers. And I meant to, I really did. But then I didn’t. And now, after having spent two glorious days with Brit, with Nadia and Aubrey, I wish I had, and sooner.

    The reason I didn’t has nothing to do with anything except for the mother part of The Mothers. Truth be told, I don’t, personally, connect all that well with stories of maternity. Mothers are great, obviously, and I have a lovely one, but I’m not particularly maternal—it's just not a drive that I possess—and so, reading about that specific experience doesn’t always appeal to me. But, of course, now’s the time when I admit to being wrong in almost all of my assumptions about Bennett’s The Mothers.

    We’ve established that I had heard the book was good but other than that, I didn’t actually know all that much else about it—not about the whole of the story, anyway. Lesson learned: don’t assume. You make an ass, and so on.

    So, it turns out I’m a bit of an ass. Because The Mothers isn’t about mothers as much as it is about womanhood, the mothering part of which is a want or reality for many women, and in many ways and forms. The book, though, is also about community, about friendship and family, about loss and coping. It is about life and the many facets of it. It is about the experience of two strong and determined women, Nadia and Aubrey, about how they grow into themselves, how they carry on the legacies left for them, and how they blaze their own paths forward.

    It is, above all else, a story about resilience.

    The Mothers is as well, to my mind at least, a prime example of why reading outside of your own experience, your own community and what it is that you know and come from, is so crucial.

    I can connect to the overwhelmingness of womanhood that Nadia and Aubrey both experience over our time with them because I am a woman. But what is new and what is important for me to understand, is how their experience as black women differs from my own. It is important for me to listen to their story, to Brit Bennett’s words, to The Mothers, because that is how we learn.

    There are many things about The Mothers that are unknown or unfamiliar to me. I can’t know the experience of Nadia and Aubrey, but I can appreciate it. I’m not religious, but I can and do admire spirituality in others. I’m not maternal, but I am grateful to my own mother, and live in awe of others who give so selflessly of themselves, as mothers tend to do. And it is that reminder to appreciate the experience of others that feels like the overarching message of Bennett's book.

    I have done an incredibly poor job of reviewing this book here, I know. But that’s what my reviews are—they’re strung together thoughts sprouted by what I have read, tangled together with an outpouring of feelings and ponderings brought on by great minds, and talented wordsmiths. And Brit Bennet is definitely that—a great mind, and a wonderful wordsmith. She is a talent, a blazing one, and I am excited to read more from her in the future.

    So, in conclusion—don’t assume. If you haven’t read The Mothers, do. And remember to listen, and learn.


    The Mothers
    By Brit Bennett
    Modern & Contemporary Fiction
    Paperback, 288 pages
    Riverhead Books
    R.R.P: $32.99

    . Thursday, 24 May 2018 .



    + I’m not sure I know what, exactly, it is that I like, anymore. I’m not particularly worried about it—it’s the one kind of surprise I actually enjoy: stumbling across lovely new things to fall for and obsess over. One such thing is this—Virtue, the psychedelic new album by The Voidz.

    Fronted by Julian Casablancas, the band is a charmingly motley crew who—it sounds to my ears, anyway—are less concerned about pleasing people and more taken with churning out exactly the kind of music they want to make. It’s curious music—good weird, challenging, but catchy. I like it. I like it a lot.

    + Hannah Gadsby is a gem. Everyone is catching on, as well they should be, but if you haven’t heard of her, you soon will have. She has a new comedy special coming to Netflix shortly—that’s what they’re calling it: a comedy special. And I suppose it is, in so much as Gadsby is a comedian and a terrifically funny one at that; but her latest offering, named Nanette, is so much more than just a comedy show. It is, for lack of a more fitting word, a sensation. Watch it when you can—seriously. Watch it.

    + Oh, books. There’re so many bloody brilliant new bookish wonders out there just waiting to be read that I have a hard time choosing between them, is the honest truth. I’m always tempted to gobble up brand new stuff that’s unfamiliar and exciting, but then, on the flip side, there’s the building-block books. The ones that build on your existing loves—like mine, for Eve Babitz.

    I’ve been meaning to pick up the new Babitz Black Swans reissue for absolutely ages. Since before I even could, frankly. But I keep getting distracted. By other great reads. It’s not an excuse, really. There should, in my life, anyway—and yours, too, I’d recommend—always be room for a bit of Babitz.

    + Usually, in this little cyber-spot right here, I’d recommend some kind of a long read that I’ve recently enjoyed. But instead, today, I’m going to link you to something different.

    This is a speech. Sounds simple, small, and, vaguely, inconsequential—but that’s why context is important. Because this speech, given by the incredible (a word that itself seems too insignificant a one to describe her) Asia Argento, is none of those things. It. Is. Everything. It is crucial. It is strength, personified. It is required watching.

    + I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time on the hunt for obscure films that I hear about and fall very much in love with idea of, but then can never actually find to watch. Más que Hermanos is one such film.

    A Panamanian film written and directed by Arianne Benedetti from a script written way back when in 2002, and subsequently published as a novel in 2007, Más que Hermanos, or Beyond Brotherhood, is the story of two orphaned children—Mia and Joshua, who are brother and sister.

    The film received rave reviews and was subsequently selected as the Panamanian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. So, it’s all very well and good—except now all I need to do it figure out where I can watch it.

    + Design stuff. That’s what goes here. In this instalment, the floor belongs to Caroline Ventura, jewellery designer, creative maven, maker of especially lovely paintings.

    Caroline does a lot of things, it seems. Apart from all the other stuff I just mentioned, she and her husband also run a truly unique precious wares and goods store in the West Village. The point I think I’m making is that Ventura has (the Ventura’s both, in fact) a really, really great eye. And so it’s no surprise, then, that her jewellery is a beautiful exercise in subtlety, minimalism, and quiet restraint.

    + While we’re at it with the Ventura’s, how about another bookish mention? The other Ventura, Michael, is equally multi-skilled and creatively adventurous as his wife and has recently extended those many talents of his to the writing of a book.

    Applied Empathy is the name of Michael’s new tome, and in it, he aims to offer readers a new way forward—a way to better understand understanding itself. And while I’m no entrepreneur (the book's target audience), few people would argue that we, as a society, could all do with a little more understanding about how best to apply our empathy.

    + I’m on the hunt for some knitwear, at the moment. I’m forever chilly, so come the colder weather, I pull on a jumper somewhere around late May, and don’t take it off again until about October. 

    As well as a human icicle, I’m also really rather short, so many of the on-trend styles of the moment—cropped most things and oversized everything else—don’t suit me altogether well. What I’m after is classic cuts and a muted palette. Does that make me a bit of a bore? Maybe. But, oh well. Because you know who does all of those things well, and who, by the way, absolutely no one calls boring? Everlane. That’s who.

    + Winter skin is a pain in the you-know-what. All those heaters, all that icy air. It’s especially irritating—and I mean that in the literal sense—when you’ve got sensitive or hypersensitive skin, to boot.

    Finding super natural skincare that works, is kind to your face, doesn’t stop working after a while, evolves with your wonky complexion as it changes seasonally, and also manages to look pretty AND tell you some witty as all hell jokes, sounds like a fantasy, right? It’s not. That’s Go-To Skincare.

    This is my face, now, my lips and hands. It’s all Go-To. I’ve been trying for the last two paragraphs not to make a very dramatic, heralding kind of it’s-a-miracle statement, but if I keep at it, that’s what going to happen. So instead, I’ll leave you with this: it works for me, but if you have any questions or worries, email them directly and an actual real live human person will get back to you with tailored advice wrapped up with a healthy dash of very genuine customer care.

    Images: Virtue via RCA Records; Nanette (trailer), Still, via Netflix; Black Swans, Cover, via Counterpoint Press; Asia Argento, Cannes, Photo: Getty Images + Mustafa Yalcin + Anadolu Agency, via elle.com; Beyond Brotherhood (promotional still), via goldenglobes.com; BRVTVS, Collection II, via Caroline Ventura on Instagram; Applied Empathy, Cover, via applliedempathy.com; Everlane, via Everlane on Instagram; Go-To Skincare, Misbehaving Skin Set, via gotoskincare.com.
    . Tuesday, 22 May 2018 .


    I think I might be a bit of a passive reader. Or, at least, someone who internalises their reading experience.

    What I mean by that—because of course everyone internalises their reading experience; that’s what reading, is—is that I’m not an especially expressive reader. I don’t tend to get teary with books and rarely laugh aloud along with them. But, on rare occasions, one or the other does happen—or, as was the case with Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, both happens and in oddly quick succession.

    I had, as most people likely have by now, heard mostly glowing things about The Idiot—but surprisingly, even with all the deservedly fannish cooing, I didn’t actually have a particularly firm idea about what the book was about, going in. I knew it was a coming of age-ish story, with a female protagonist, and it was meant to be darkly funny. That was it.

    When I bought the book, I hadn’t even been looking for it. It’d been on my mind for months (and on more than one occasion, I’d almost given in to the omnipresent desire of mine just to bulk spree order it online with a mass of other books I’m lusting over), and so, when I spotted it—one lone, bright copy perched on a high shelf of my local bookstore—to say I was excited to find it would be an understatement.

    I picked it up more or less right away and was immediately taken with the style of Batuman’s writing, and the format it takes in the body of the book.

    Batuman is funny, her wit dry, and her observances keen. This all shines through in bright little moments of heartwarming clarity, where, over the course of the read, she manages on more than one occasion to sort hit you with soft little punches of familiarity—you see yourself in the remarkably unremarkable day to day of Selin’s life, and it is both funny and stinging, in some cases, to reminisce on.

    The way Batuman writes, in so much as the format her writing takes, wouldn't work for just any writer, or for just any story. But the vignette-esque approach she takes to the occasionally mundane moments of Selin’s life at once flesh out the characters, their life, and the story; while at the same time establishing a completely unique voice for both Selin, and Batuman, both.

    The lives of young people, privileged ones particularly, are, whether they realise it at the time or not, mostly mundane. Banal and self-indulgently so. And that’s part of the joy of being young—your job is, largely, just to figure out who are are, what kind of person you want to be, and how to get there. And that is, more or less, the backbone of Selin’s story—she’s just figuring it out. And for us, as readers (and hopefully, in some cases at least, as people who have been able to figure out a fraction of what it is to be ourselves), it’s fun to watch.

    I, as I’ve well established, I think, at this point, enjoy quiet stories. I like reading about the making of a person, and about nothingness, even. I enjoy the psychology and the melancholy and the reverence of it. And I think that—the reverent melancholy—has a large part to do with why The Idiot touched me, and tickled me, quite so much as it did.

    I don’t know why exactly Selin’s getting of Ivan’s email at the end of Spring made me teary. Maybe it felt familiar? Maybe I was just sad for her. But the point, I think, of my feeling that way, is less about the why, and more about the sheer talent it takes of Batuman’s part to inspire that kind of emotional reaction for a character who hasn’t, up to that point in the book, established herself as much of anything at all—young and naive, but not a hero or a villain; likeable or unlikable.

    The point, I think, of the book, is that there really isn’t one. Not in any overarching way. It’s about reminiscing and remembering what all of those little insignificances that Selin’s experiencing over her story, felt like. It’s about reliving it, vicariously, through her.

    And, of course, it’s about getting a giggle.

    — 

    The Idiot 
    by Elif Batuman 
    Modern & Contemporary Fiction 
    Paperback, 432 pages 
    Vintage Publishing 
    R.R.P.: $19.99 

    . Wednesday, 16 May 2018 .


    I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about why it is that I love the books that I love.

    Not unlike actual, real-life love, my affection for literary loveliness is, for the most part, mysterious—indescribable, and deliciously confounding. But I think I’ve managed to pin down at least a little bit of something about the hows and whys of the attraction itself.

    And what is that, exactly? Mood. And just a tad of banality.

    Let me explain—

    I’m fascinated by the little things, rather so much than by show-stopping, main-event type of story scenarios. The decisions that lead up to decisiveness are more interesting to me that the happening itself; I like lyrical, sprawling prose, heady descriptions, and ambient scene setting.

    I’m reading The Idiot Elif Batuman right now, and what I’ve noticed both in my own enjoyment in reading it and in the opinions of others who have read it but not fallen for it so much as I have, is the aforementioned tad of banality.

    A lot of what happens to Selin in The Idiot is, for the most part, unremarkable—particularly in the beginning. She’s just living, meeting new people, finding herself, discovering what she likes…it’s all the building of a character and a life that takes shape to make sense of the story that happens, later.

    And that’s what I like about it.

    It’s also what I liked so much about Katie Kitamura’s A Separation, basically anything and everything by Eve Babitz, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, and Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler. (just to name a few.)

    And what’s funny about all of this epiphany-having, is that it was actually Sweetbitter that lead me here—Sweetbitter, the show, that is.

    I’m so-so on adaptions, in general, for the most part, but Sweetbitter (the show) is written and produced by Danler, herself. Which is why, in my opinion, it manages to encapsulate so well that very specific mood that’s so fundamental in making the book as captivating as it is.

    As a former, and somewhat traumatised, waitress, I connected immediately with the unique feeling of frenzy that Danler describes in her book—that sensation of oddly focused panic that consumes you when you are, in turn, consumed by a frantic kitchen, a bustling restaurant. And so, when I was watching the second scene in the second episode of Sweetbitter play out the other night—the one where Tess, and us, the audience, along with her, are taken on a hustling, bustling tour of a busy restaurant, bar, and kitchen very much in full swing—it struck me. That is, the mood struck me.

    They captured it—the mood. The banality of being, of living, of doing and being—the one that is unremarkably remarkable (or,  remarkably unremarkable), and that, that right there, is what I love about the books that I love.
    . Monday, 23 April 2018 .


    Kirsty Manning’s second novel, “The Jade Lily” (Allen & Unwin), is, above all else, a celebration of the strength and fortitude of women. It’s a drama, yes, of both romantic and familial persuasions—you could even call it a historical one if you’d like—but it’s so much more than just that.

    “The Jade Lily” tells the story of Alexandra, who, in 2016, is fleeing London with a broken heart. Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm, when her grandfather is dying. With only weeks left together, her grandparents begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century.

    In 1939, two young girls meet in Shanghai, the ‘Paris of the East’: beautiful local Li and Viennese refugee Romy forge a fierce friendship. But the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as Li and Romy slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession and the desperate Shanghai Ghetto. Eventually, they are forced seperate ways as Romy doubts Li’s loyalties.

    After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. As she peels back the layers of their hidden lives, she begins to question everything she knows about her family—and herself.

    The synopsis, it should be said, is almost as tight-lipped in its giving of a sense of the whole story as the clues-as-breadcrumbs approach taken by the book itself. There’s so much more going on in “The Jade Lily” than just what is alluded to on the back cover, and it's that, I think, which probably contributed to my own reticence about how much I might actually enjoy the read.

    Manning’s prose is easy and flowing, and the overall binge-ability of the book is serviced well by its bite-sized chapters. The story gets moving rather quickly right from the start, with the pacing aided by the timeline and narrative jumps we make between Romy, past and present; child and grandmother, and Alexandra, her granddaughter.

    In the beginning, the action happens in flashes, which feels appropriate despite the sometimes stomach-churning shock of it. But outside of these foundation-stone events, Manning takes her time. She gives the plot space to breathe and to percolate and is more than generous in her evocative descriptions of Romy and Alexandra’s rapidly changing worlds.

    The first half of the book feels like groundwork, but not in a lazy or even in an indulgent way. No, what Manning does is set us up for the fall. You can't share in a loss if you don’t know what's at risk in the first place; and so, the sweetness of (mostly) innocent newness, the lush gardens and happy kitchens and workshops, the building of new lives and remembering of how to be happy—that’s all necessary. Crucial, even, I’d go so far as to say. But you don’t appreciate all of that world-building until you hit the middle of the book, which is about where everything starts barrelling towards a head.

    Manning describes both the beauty and the sadness of her story with equal luminosity. The grief and loss are aching, while the landscapes, gardens, and warmth of home, soothe. There is a vein of rawness flowing through the story which feels almost voyeuristic in its candidness, and it’s that sense of intimacy that grounds the whole book.

    Somewhat surprisingly, “The Jade Lily” ends up being a story that is of the times almost as much as it is steeped in history. Manning does a chillingly good job of reminding us of the oft-forgotten intricacies of the devastation of Romy’s formative years, and unsettles us with her subtle but pointed threading together of the then with the now.

    “The Jade Lily” has a little bit of everything: drama, romance, and intrigue. But more than tropes (none of which Manning falls into), the story is one of love, of hope, and family, grounded by a cast of remarkable, strong, and resilient women.

    Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

    — 

    The Jade Lily 
    by Kirsty Manning 
    Fiction 
    Paperback, 456 pages 
    Allen & Unwin 
    R.R.P.: $29.99