The best Australian historical fiction you’ve never read. My first piece for The Conversation..
From the back cover: Nora Porteous has spent most of her life waiting to escape. Fleeing from her small-town family and then from her stifling marriage to a mean-spirited husband, Nora arrives finally in London where she creates a new life for herself as a successful dressmaker.
Now in her seventies, Nora returns to Queensland to settle into her childhood home. But Nora has been away a long time, and the people and events are not at all like she remembered them.
This is a well-worn literary trope: middle-aged-to-elderly person looks back on her life and finds that her memories do not mean quite what she thought they did, a scenario so clichéd as to be virtually unusable now. Except it’s not. Barnes won the Booker this year with a similar set up in The Sense of an Ending. Anne Enright’s Booker-prize winning The Gathering, John Banville’s Booker-prize winning The Sea, Peter Carey’s Illywhacker and many many other books use this device.
Why are literary authors, in particular, so fond of it?
Read the rest here:http://overland.org.au/2012/02/jessica-andersons-tirra-lirra-by-the-river/