I don’t usually read memoirs, but Anna Goldworthy’s Piano Lessons attracted me from the moment I first heard about it. When I was a little girl I had...moreI don’t usually read memoirs, but Anna Goldworthy’s Piano Lessons attracted me from the moment I first heard about it. When I was a little girl I had wanted to be a pianist and a writer: Goldsworthy is both and I wanted to know how she did it…
It wasn’t just talent, though she has it (and I never did). It wasn’t just hours of dedicated practice, though she realised long before I did that desultory efforts with the piano are not enough for success. Her story traces the elusive path of dreams and ambition, and it reveals a steely determination to achieve a succession of personal goals that would leave any life coach breathless in her wake.
Gifted in every way, Goldsworthy set herself one target after another: academically, a scholarship to Pembroke, top marks and dux of school; musically, mastering a progression of composers, collecting A+ exam results, prizes in performance and a scholarship to the Texan Christian University. She tells this story with honesty and self-deprecating humour, sharing her earnest adolescent efforts to be like the other girls, her ineptitude behind the wheel of a car, and the compulsive thought processes that guide her through the terrors of rehearsal and performance. To read the rest of my review see http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/200...(less)
This is a compelling story of endurance, courage and determination on the most inhospitable continent on earth. Mawson's recount tells of the wonder,...moreThis is a compelling story of endurance, courage and determination on the most inhospitable continent on earth. Mawson's recount tells of the wonder, excitement and horror of early Antarctic exploration in vivid detail; today's reader can only marvel at how these scientists were able to manage living conditions in such a hostile environment and to set the standard of scientific achievement for future expeditions. The first part of the tale covers how in 1912 a team of 18 men set up a base and learned to manage living in almost continuous blizzard conditions and winds of unimaginable strength. With self-deprecating humour Mawson explains how the Hut was built, a formidable task in itself; how they cooked, cleaned and entertained themselves; what they wore to protect themselves against the bitter cold; how they took care of the sledge dogs; and - with a light touch for the general reader - how they undertook the job of gathering scientific and cartographic data. Using equipment and protective clothing that nearly a century later seems primitive, they were entirely self-sufficient - the ship Aurora having departed for its own perilous return journey through the icy waters to Hobart, Tasmania. This section of the book is immensely readable, but it is the story of Mawson's epic sledge that is unputdownable. After the men had spent nearly a year in the Hut, in November the weather improved, and the men split up into small teams to explore the area further afield. Mawson, Mertz and Ninnis set out together, but only Mawson returned, having lost his companions in appalling circumstances. He tells the tragic story of their deaths and his journey back to the base so vividly that it is unforgettable. In Adelaide, South Australia, the museum has a special permanent exhibition about Mawson, Australia's greatest polar explorer. Viewing the little wooden sledge that he used for his solo trek across the ice, brings into perspective the enormity of this man's battle against the elements. His refusal to give into despair is inspiring. The book comes with photos, maps and diagrams, as well as supplementary narratives from the other men on the expedition. Highly recommended. Cross posted at Library Thing http://www.librarything.com/work/2311... AND another review focussing more on Mawson's heroic journey at http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/200... Yes, I really, really like this book!(less)
Fishing in the Styx is the second volume of Ruth Park’s autobiography, read with great sensitivity by Anna Volska on this audiobook. It is fascinating...moreFishing in the Styx is the second volume of Ruth Park’s autobiography, read with great sensitivity by Anna Volska on this audiobook. It is fascinating to listen to the evolution of one of our best-loved writers, writing about living in a 1960s Sydney unrecognisable today.
Ruth Park was born into poverty in about 1923 in New Zealand, and came to have a career in Australia only by chance. She was about to embark from Sydney to take up a job with a newspaper in San Fransisco when all shipping was suspended after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. A fledgling romance with the Australian writer D’Arcy Niland blossomed, and the pair decided that they would make a living as writers, surviving perilously from week to week, juggling finances and writing projects and the children that inevitably came. She writes about their struggle with humour and optimism but the sense that the light went out of her life with D’Arcy’s premature death is tangible. Please visit http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/201... to read the rest of this review. (less)
A ground-breaking book, still relevant today. To see my review and some suggestions for contemporary novels tackling similar issues, please visit http...moreA ground-breaking book, still relevant today. To see my review and some suggestions for contemporary novels tackling similar issues, please visit http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/201...(less)
I read everything I could find by Nevil Shute when I first discovered him, and I really enjoyed his fiction, so it was disappointing to discover that...moreI read everything I could find by Nevil Shute when I first discovered him, and I really enjoyed his fiction, so it was disappointing to discover that I would not have liked this man one little bit! (less)
I borrowed this book because I've just received a new book by Fiona Kidman. It's called Infinite Air and it's about New Zealand's most significant avi...moreI borrowed this book because I've just received a new book by Fiona Kidman. It's called Infinite Air and it's about New Zealand's most significant aviatrix, Jean Batten. I thought it would be interesting to learn something about the history of Australian aviation prior to reading this new book. But truth be told, My God! It's a Woman is a bit of a disappointment. I did enjoy the first part, about Nancy Bird's childhood and early ambitions to fly. It was interesting to read about the barnstorming era and the opening up of the Aussie outback by courageous aviators of both sexes. It was also interesting to see how Nancy Bird overcame the disadvantages of her sex to achieve a whole stack of firsts, and how she went on to have a distinguished career in the service of aviation even when her barnstorming days were over. But the last part of the book degenerated into a terribly dull catalogue of female firsts. I understand her motivation: she was keen to redress the lack of recognition for women pilots in Australia and these chapters show that there were many remarkable women who did remarkable things. But there are only so many record-breaking feats that one can read about before the interest palls, and that's what happened. I just got sick of it: so-and-so was the first one to fly from such-and-such, over and over again, without the human interest to enliven it. So while I think this book, in its print form, would be a valuable resource for someone researching the history of aviation in Australia, I didn't find all of it very interesting to listen to...(less)
This is a fascinating autobiography: I’ve never read one by a doctor before and the story of this man’s life and achievements was really good to read....moreThis is a fascinating autobiography: I’ve never read one by a doctor before and the story of this man’s life and achievements was really good to read.
Professor Earl Owen spent his professional life pioneering techniques in microsurgery, and you may recall seeing in the media some of his more high profile achievements such as reattaching fingers, doing hand transplants in France, reversing vasectomies and operating to repair foetal abnormalities in utero.