The Latest Q & A

Here is the latest book and author Q & A doing the rounds. I tried to worm my way out of it but two writers, Amanda Curtin and Louise Allan tagged me so I ended up having to play the game! (the ‘rules’ are pasted at the end of the post). 

What are you reading right now? Middlemarch by George Eliot. 

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?It’ll be a return to my ever-growing pile of Australian fiction ‘to-reads’.  First on the list is Carrie Tiffany's Mateship with Birds . because it's won so many awards.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Man Who Loved Children, by Christina Stead, Maurice Guest, by Henry Handel Richardson, Stasiland, by Anna Funder, Goonardoo, by Katherine Susannah Prichard.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now? I don’t read magazines. Having said that there are a number of old back issues of Gourmet Traveller floating around which were passed on to me. I love cooking but rarely follow recipes; just collect ideas and make things up on the spot and cross my fingers that they turn out. 



What’s the worst book you’ve ever read? I would never bother reading a bad book. If a book doesn’t grab me, I give up very early in the piece, after the first chapter, sometimes the first page. It wouldn’t be fair to compare my discards.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
 Wild Swans by Jung Chang. I got up to about page 150 but couldn’t continue. It was just too long and sad and perhaps not the right book for me to read at the time.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
 The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak.

What are your three favourite poems?  I don't think of poems in terms of favourites. I probably prefer Australian poetry on the whole and have great admiration for Judith Wright. For me, “Old House”, “The Child”, and “Wedding Photograph 1919”, stand out as part of the narrative of her very moving autobiography, Half a Lifetime. 

Where do you usually get your books?
 A number of local independent bookshops in Perth, and two very trusty ones in Margaret River, when I’m down that way.

Where do you usually read your books? Sitting in my comfy wingback with my legs resting on the ottoman, or out on my front verandah curled up in a sea-grass chair, or, (and definitely not until after dark) lying in bed.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

My idea of bliss was school holidays spent lying on my bed in the prone position, reading one of Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong  Series while simultaneously sucking on a choo-choo bar. Double addiction!

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down? It’s something I try and refrain from doing. Amanda Curtin’s Elemental  had me well and truly hooked.  From the start, I could feel myself being drawn in opposite directions. There was that constant battle between being compelled to linger over the beauty of the prose and being pulled forward by the momentum of the plot. (see below my review entitled “The Wanderers” in an earlier posting 13 June 2013.) 

Have you ever ‘faked’ reading a book?
 I openly admit to having been a “cherry-picker” as a student, quoting from texts I had no intention of reading in full, (I think that’s pretty standard) but I can’t recall ever having “faked” reading a book. 

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
 No. Design can draw me to a book, but it would never be a deciding factor in whether I would buy it.

What book changed your life? I did a guest blog post on this back in March for expat Aussie journalist, Kim Forrester in London as part of her 'Tuesday Triple Choice', so here’s the link. 

What is your favourite passage from a book? Nothing beautiful but rather funny. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen


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Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley. He had always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that he should not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid she had no knowledge of it. It was then disclosed in the following manner. Observing his second daughter employed in trimming a hat, he suddenly addressed her with:

“I hope Mr. Bingley will like it, Lizzy.”

“We are not in a way to know what Mr. Bingley likes,” said her mother resentfully, “since we are not to visit.”

“But you forget, mamma,” said Elizabeth, “that we shall meet him at the assemblies, and that Mrs. Long promised to introduce him.”

“I do not believe Mrs. Long will do any such thing. She has two nieces of her own. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I have no opinion of her.

“No more have I,” said Mr. Bennet; “and I am glad to find that you do not depend on her serving you.”

Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself, began scolding one of her daughters.

“Don’t keep coughing so, Kitty, for Heaven’s sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces.”

“Kitty has no discretion in her coughs,” said her father; “she times them ill.”

“I do not cough for my own amusement,” replied Kitty fretfully.

“When is your next ball to be, Lizzy?”

Who are your top five favourite authors? Oh dear!  I’m going to cheat and confine that  to “five favourite contemporary writers”. Nothing new or surprising: A. S. Byatt, Barbara Kingsolver, Gillian Mears, Geoffrey Euginides, Margaret Atwood.

What book has no one heard about but should read?
 Some people may have heard of James Hilton’s vintage novel, The Lost Horizon, but it’s so remote and mysterious, I think it must have nearly gone off the radar by now. It ‘is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La, a fictional utopian lamasery high in the mountains of Tibet. I only came upon this fascinating book by chance six years ago in a hotel-room while travelling through the provinces of western China.

What 3 books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

That word! Let’s just say that I could ‘wax lyrical’ about Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour (read on for my reviewKate Grenville’s The Secret River, and A. S. Byatt’s Possession, which I reviewed as a guest writer on Annabel Smith's 'Friday Faves'

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?


The Nature of Ice by Robyn Mundy
 The Good Wife by Emma Chapman
 Traitor  by Stephen Daisley

What is your favourite classic book?

Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Five other notable mentions?

War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy, 
 Villette  by Charlotte Bronte, 
 The Magus by John Fowles, 
 Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov, 
 Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, 
 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields


1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
. Answer the questions above
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them

 6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

I’m tagging Anne Morgan, Deborah Burrows, Marlish Glorie (without obligation, of course!)—but everyone’s free to join in, so please don’t wait to be tagged.