Monday, April 23, 2012

Becoming Jane Austen

On a visit to Bath last August we visited the Jane Austen Centre wher we learned about Jane's life in Bath from 1801 to 1806. Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence explores how events in Jane Austen's life affected the writing of her novels. Exploring diaries and correspondence the book provides great detail about Jane's life providing readers with a greater understanding of this nineteenth century author and her well loved books.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Sophie Cunningham sets out to look at Melbourne over a year. Each chapter represents a season providing discussion about events, festivals and sporting events occuring at different times of the year. This is a up close look at life in Melbourne, particularly in the inner suburbs, including the weather, arts, architecture and history of the city providing the author's view of what makes Melbourne, Melbourne.

Into the silence

Mount Everest was the supreme challenge for mountaineers during the twentieth century, particularly after the First World War. Subtitled The Great War, Mallory and the conquest of Everest, this book by Wade Davis examines the background of the twenty-six British mountaineers who, in three expeditions between 1921 and 1924, attempted to climb the mountain. The book investigates the political as well as the physical barriers associated with mountaineering expeditions as well as concentrating on Mallory's attempt to climb the mountain. It is suggested that he may have succeeded in reaching the top of Everest before his disappearance on the return to base camp.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Arcade Books

For a number of years Arcade Publications have been publishing a series of  books, small in size and number of pages but large in content, on a variety of Australian topics.

Cole's Book Arcade was a famous attraction in Melbourne from the 1883 to 1929. Lisa Lang in E W Cole: chasing the rainbow looks at the life of Edward Cole and the business that he established.

MacRobertsons' chocolates included Freddo Frog, Cherry Ripe and Old Gold chocolates and all were made in Melbourne at Macpherson Robertson's factory - White City - at Fitzroy. The story of how Macpherson Robertson built his chocolate empire is told by Jill Robertson in MacRobertsonland. Jill Robertson has also written a more detailed study of Macpherson Robertson in her book, The Chocolate King.

Two books in the series look specifically at Melbourne. Jenny Lee has written Making modern Melbourne, a study of the early history of the city and its development while Seamus O'Hanlon's book, Melbourne remade, examines the rebuilding of the city during the twentieth century.

Each book is well illustrated and has a Bibliography or Notes on Sources and provides an interesting introduction to the topic discussed proving that good things can come in small packages.

The disputed country: Australia's lost border

Everyone now thinks they know where the border between Victoria and South Australia is but for many years the actual border was a contentious issue. The original plan was that the 141st east longitude was supposed to form the border but when the border was actually surveyed between 1847 and 1850 an error was made resulting in the surveyed border being approximately 3 kilometres to the west of the proposed border. Black Thursday bushfires in 1851 also added to the confusion by destroying many of the temporary markers. This book by Bob Dunn outlines the story of the disputed border and also provides the story of the vermin proof fence built in the 1880s to keep rabbits and foxes out of South Australia. This fence through the Mallee also failed to travel in a straight line with four right angles in what was supposed to be a straight fence. Eventually the border determined in the 1847-50 survey became the accepted border.

Cooking the books

The latest in Kerry Greenwood's Corinna Chapman series set in Melbourne. Earthly Delights is closed for the summer holidays, Jason has gone surfing, Kylie and Goss have parts in a television soap opera and Daniel is investigating the theft of a bundle of bonds from a financial company. Corrina is meant to be having a break from baking but agrees to help with the catering for the television production on which the girls are working. Before long she and Daniel are involved in investigating a series of events threatening to undermine the television production or are the events aimed at destroying the business of the the catering company? Corinna and Daniel also spend much of the summer following a series of rhyming clues in order to resolve a corporate crime as well as help a young woman who is being bullied at the company where she is employed.

Ocean without end

Local writer, Kelly Gardiner, has written a pirate trilogy - the Swashbuckler Trilogy - for  upper primary school age children. The first book introduces the reader to 12 year old Lily Swann who is mistakenly kidnapped by pirates who are looking for a cabin boy. So begins the adventures as Lily initially struggles to survive in her new and dangerous environment but when the opportunity arises decides to find out what happened to her father who disappeared many years previously. Lots of action in this book - will have to look out for the sequels to find out what happens to Lily, or Cyg as she is known in her pirate world.