It’s as if I am slowly sinking in the water, just occasionally making it back to the top for a gulp of air – to a sort of memory of what life can be – what life SHOULD be – and then down down down I go again. And each time the surfacing gets harder and harder and requires a greater feat of will, kicking and turning and fighting against the undertow….’
The only child of two famous but self-absorbed artists, Zelda Steele is adopted by her parent’s patrons when she is just a baby. Great things are expected of this privileged young woman, but at twenty- seven Zelda is dead, leaving two young children and a body of work that only hints at her promise.
Years later, Zelda’s daughter Ruth returns to her childhood home to find the diaries her mother is rumoured to have kept. What they reveal will send Ruth on a journey into the past – and transform her future in ways she can’t even begin to imagine.
Weaving together the narratives of three very different women, living in vastly different times, The Steele Diaries paints a rich and evocative portrait of the Sydney art scene from the thirties to the seventies, and examines the eternal conflict between maternity and creativity, motherhood and self
Out of Silence by Wendy James
I call his name – only quietly, but he hears me as I knew he would, and wants me as he always does. And we come together – right there in the darkness. And even though there is no way to be certain of any other thing in the world, I am certain that I would risk anything to keep what is between the two of us. For love, I would risk anything, lose everything.
Out of the Silence is a stunning debut novel about three Australian women from very different worlds: Maggie Heffernan, a spirited working-class country girl; Elizabeth Hamilton, whose own disappointment in love has served only to strengthen her humanity; and Vida Goldstein, a charismatic suffragist from Melbourne and the first woman to stand for Parliament in Australia.
When Maggie’s life descends into darkness after a terrible betrayal, the three women’s lives collide. Around this tragedy Wendy James has constructed a masterfully drawn and gripping fiction. Based on a true story, it unfolds at the dawn of the twentieth century against the compelling backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement and a world on the brink of enormous change.
The novel powerfully evokes the plight of women in the early 1900s – not least their limited options, whatever their class and education. However, at its heart this is a story of love – of love gone wrong; of its compromises and disappointments; but ultimately of its extraordinary transformative power.
WINNER OF THE BEST FIRST AUSTRALIAN CRIME NOVEL, NED KELLY CRIME AWARDS 2006
SHORTLISTED FOR THE DOBBIE LITERARY AWARD 2006 FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL BY A FEMALE AUTHOR
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