JC's Reviews > Not Meeting Mr Right

Not Meeting Mr Right by Anita Heiss
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Dec 27, 11

bookshelves: australia, australian-literature, chick-lit, contemporary, gender, humour, indigenous, race
Read on June 22, 2011

As a great appreciator of chick lit, and as someone that particularly likes finding Australian contributions to the genre, I was looking forward to trying some of Heiss's work. That she is an academic who writes about Indigenous characters made me even more hopeful that this would be entertaining and intelligent. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed. The premise is (more than) slightly insulting to women, and the novel's pretensions to feminism are flimsy at best. Alice is petulant, selfish and often just outright unlikeable; it is the mark of poor narrative design and characterisation that Alice's character development is epilogous rather than central. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a fun read, but there is so reason it can't be intelligent and well written. Certainly there was a clear political agenda that added an interesting dimension to the novel and located it so firmly within contemporary Australian politics, but even as one sympathetic to Alice's political and historical views - a black-armbanded whitefella multiculturalist feminist academic at that - I felt that her attitude and approach was antagonistic and alienating, precluding all possibility of a reconciliatory conversation. In other words, I found Alice a bit Marcia Langton (a woman I admire but by god she scares the bejesus out of me and makes me frustrated...from a safe distance). Oh, and it really irritated me that Heiss got the date for female enfranchisement wrong when Alice is teaching Australian women's history - it was actually 1902. AND - it just hit me then - SHE GOT THE DATE WRONG FOR THE ABORIGINAL VOTE. This occurred in 1962; the 1967 referendum was about including Indigenous Australians in the constitution (changing their status to "people" of Australia rather than "flora and fauna" - not to be confused with the current debate about acknowledging them in the constitution as the first peoples). I want to take a half star off for that now. Shame, Anita Heiss, shame.
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