Taghistorical fiction

Lauren Chater – The Winter Dress

Simon & Schuster, Australia, 2022
Cover design Nada Backovic
Cover images Beata Banach/Trevillion Images

Lauren Chater’s third historical novel is as finely woven as the 17th century silk dress which inspired it.

Lauren Chater talks to Barbie about The Winter Dress
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Ned Manning – Painting the Light

Broadcast Books, Australia, 2022
Cover design, artwork and internal design by Daniel New

This historical novel spans the period in Australian history from pre-World War 2 into the 1950s. It is inspired by the life of the author’s parents, drawing heavily on their experiences on the land and in wartime, and then in the political sphere of Labor politics.

Ned Manning talks to Barbie about Painting the Light
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Kelly Rimmer – The German Wife

Hachette, Australia, 2022

While Kelly Rimmer’s latest novel is entitled The German Wife, for me it is an American story. Perhaps it is a hole in my own knowledge that made the author’s graphic and heart-breaking account of the Black Sunday dust storm so powerful.

Kelly Rimmer talks to Barbie about The German Wife
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Nore I. Hoogstad – Gunfire Lullabies

Independently published, Australia, 2021

Written by a former diplomat, Gunfire Lullabies is a fictionalised account of the dramatic lead-up and events of the independence ballot in East Timor in 1999. The novel follows the daily lives of main characters Australian diplomat Ava and young Timorese woman Isabel as they negotiate the horrors of wholesale slaughter, threats to their personal safety and the challenging vicissitudes of surviving in these turbulent times.

Barbie spoke to Nore Hoostad about Gunfire Lullabies
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Kerri Maher – The Paris Bookseller

Headline Review, an imprint of Headline Publishing Group, USA, 2022
Published in Australia by Hachette, 2022

The remarkable life and times of Sylvia Beach, founder of Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris in 1919 and first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses, are the bones of this excellent historical novel by US author Kerri Maher.

Barbie spoke to Kerri Maher about The Paris Bookseller
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Julie Brooks – The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay

Headline Review, an Imprint of Headline Publishing Group
An Hachette UK Company, 2021
Cover design by Emily Courdelle

The Secrets if Bridgewater Bay is a skilfully wrought and complex story of long held secrets and betrayals, of love and friendship, of family and forgiveness. Set in time periods from 1906 to the present era, the story centres on the lives of the Luscombe and Toms families, their inter-connectedness and the guilty secrets that bind them and guide their actions.

Barbie talks to author Julie Brooks about The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay
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Stephanie Parkyn – The Freedom of Birds

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2021
Cover design Lisa White

Stephanie Parkyn has chosen the failing years of the Napoleonic Empire as the period for this historical fiction, a sweeping tale of cultural theft, love and betrayal, abandonment and refuge.

The story follows the fortunes of storytellers Rémi and Pascal, whom we first meet as orphans working in the comedia dell’arte theatre of Gianni. They are soon joined by Saskia, a Russian travelling circus performer who had been kidnapped and mistreated by a mysterious religious Father.

Barbie spoke to Stephanie Parkyn about The Freedom of Birds
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Alison Booth – The Painting

RedDoor Press, UK, 2021
Cover design Emily Courdelle

The Painting is the sixth of Alison Booth’s novels.  It is a fine piece of fiction – historical in that it is set in 1989-1990 and with the World War 11 and post-War era in Hungary at its core.

The centrepiece of the story is a gift from family carried by our heroine Anika to Australia when she manages to begin a new life in Sydney.

Alison Booth talks about The Painting
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Tessa Lunney – Autumn Leaves 1922

Pegasus Crime, NY, 2021

I became an immediate fan of Tess Lunney’s work with her first novel April in Paris 1921 where we met heroine, glamorous spy Kiki Button. Tessa nails it again with this thrilling breathless sequel, a tale of espionage, power and politics in 1922 Paris.

Barbie spoke to Tessa Lunney about Autumn Leaves 1922
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L.P. McMahon – As Swallows Fly

Ventura Press, Australia, 2021

This exquisite study of how we hold and resolve pain and loss is Lawrence McMahon’s first novel. Traversing themes of violence against women, the role of the missionary, religious practices, hierarchical structures in our society macro and micro – hence power plays between individuals and groups, medical ethics and our universal need for a place we call home, the novel is beautifully written and thoroughly absorbing in its content.

Barbie talks to Lawrence McMahon about As Swallows Fly
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