'The Geography of Friendship' by Sally Piper (UQP)

'The Geography of Friendship' by Sally Piper (UQP)

'The Geography of Friendship' is circular in structure, further echoed in devices including the bush walk which produce an oppressive, claustrophobic world where nature provides no escape. It shows the trials of being a girl and a women in this world of toxic masculinity.

Sally Piper's 'The Geography of Friendship' is a claustrophobic read concerning toxic masculinity and its impacts on women

Sally Piper's 'The Geography of Friendship' is a claustrophobic read concerning toxic masculinity and its impacts on women

'She wanted to tell him that a woman's body wasn't a confection though; that women weren't a free for all feast of the eyes with some bits of them looking tastier than others.
She said nothing to her son though. Instead she hurried him along on to the car.
In this she knows she failed him.'

What is unsaid is the greater failure of the mother: to the girls and women a boy or man with this unchecked toxicity would hurt.

The looping, repetitive thoughts of the women across their 20-years-apart-walks build a trap which is mental, physical and geographical. Congratulations Sally on your second book.

The photo is closest I could get to a bush walk in my inner city 'hood! ๐Ÿค. It shows off Sally's gorgeous cover, which from memory is by the same designer as @sylviemina 's, fab 'The Birdman's Wife' #coverart

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'The Three Of Us' by Kim Lock, Pan Macmillan, 2018

An absorbing love story is juxtaposed with its conservative, racist and repressed 1950s rural Australia setting. The secret, parallel world created by the main characters shows how the personal can provide solace and escape from a conformist social space.

As with โ€˜Like I Can Loveโ€™, Lock shows her strength in depicting personal relationships, especially between women through the stresses and experiences of life.

Be like the woman in the painting and get reading in 2018! Start with 'The Three Of Us'!

Be like the woman in the painting and get reading in 2018! Start with 'The Three Of Us'!

With her evocative and descriptive prose Lock infuses the book with the ambiance of a languid summers day. The atmosphere and joyful, earthy domesticity depicts strong female alliance โ€“ as powerfully employed in โ€˜Picnic At Hanging Rockโ€™ and the โ€˜Virgin Suicidesโ€™ โ€“ that challenges and defies the times.

Lock has an uncanny ability to pick themes that gel with the zeitgeist: โ€˜Like I Can Loveโ€™ coincided with the public demand for action on the domestic violence epidemic and โ€˜The Three of Usโ€™ comes after voters declared โ€˜Love Is Love' and dragged the government to Marriage Equality. โ€˜The Three Of Usโ€™ is a welcome tonic of love in a world awash with hate, division and ignorance. โ€˜The Three Of Usโ€™ celebrates tolerance, acceptance and love, in all its forms.

'Home Is Nearby' by Magdalena McGuire, Impress Books, 2017

'Home Is Nearby' is an evocative, lyrical and passionate debut from Magdalena Maguire. The narrative is involving and well-paced set in the 80's: the time of Solidarity in Poland. Cleverly, the political changes are charted through the journey of the 'next generation': heroine Ania, the artistic daughter of a rural stone mason, her move to university and the cast of bohemian, intellectual students she joins, loves and befriends there.

The major characters are well rounded, humane, idealistic and engaging. The reader is invested in Ania's tribulations, heartbreaking losses, choices, decisions, as they unfold against the revolutionary turmoil. There is also an integral refugee component reminding us of a time when Australia welcomed refugees (albeit of a certain approved 'type').

The beautiful cover art of 'Home is Nearby' standing out in Vanuatu.

The beautiful cover art of 'Home is Nearby' standing out in Vanuatu.

The numerous settings of the novel are well evoked especially the rural country and the university days which provide a dramatic contrast to the later Australian scenes. Maguire writes convincingly and engagingly about the joys of art and creation and equally passionately of those who sell out, outsource, delegate or otherwise monetarise art.

Art and journalism โ€“ the power of words and culture to incite and inspire โ€“ play a central role in the narrative.

These arenas are Ania and her partner Dominik's sustenance and salvation. There is a performance artist, Malgorzata, who conjured a young Marina Abramoviฤ‡ (seen in 'The Museum of Love') for me.

I'm glad Maguire has moved to novel writing, she's a talented addition. The icing on the cake is the gorgeous cover seen here nestled in a handmade wooden shutter on holiday in Vanuatu!

Reviewed as part of the Australian Women Writer's Challenge, 2018.

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