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Melbourne

(The New South Cities Series #4)

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Melbourne's city life told in diary form, this contemporary and personal portrait depicts major events from the Australian heat wave, which culminated in more than 400 bushfires, to the destructive deluge of a hailstorm. While walking through Melbourne's oldest suburb to its largest market, experiencing an Australian Rules Football game, and attending the comedy festival, ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by University of New South Wales Press (first published July 12th 2011)
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3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  214 ratings  ·  45 reviews


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Narrelle
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
To begin with, I want to say what a beautiful object the book Melbourne is. When people go on about the texture, weight, feel and smell of real books in the e-book debate, this is the book they mean. Melbourne, written by Sophie Cunningham and published by New South Books, is exquisite. A small, solid hardback, its elegant dustcover sheaths a simple cream cover embossed in gold. It looks like a book made for princes. The inside cover is an old-style map of Melbourne with icons highlighting featu ...more
Louise
Having been a resident of Melbourne for the last 7 years, and born and bred in Victoria, I was excited to read this book. I was in the end, however, disappointed.

Although I considered the book to be, in many ways, very "Melbourne", I did feel that the portrait provided was rather incomplete. I am not quite sure whether this was because of the way the book was written, or because the author's view and experiences of the city seemed so far removed from my own. Indeed, the occasional "soap-box" pa
...more
Damian
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Some interesting and recognisable people and places, but in the end, tediously parochial and self indulgent.
Kirsten Em
Dec 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Self indulgent inner city rubbish. This isn't about Melbourne, it's about Sophie Cunningham and how many names she can drop.
Steve lovell
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was mentally in quite an agonised state. It was the early 70’s and for the first time I was venturing off my island to visit a place, to that point, I’d only seen on television, read about and listened to from afar on the radio. I was a late developer in terms of travel – everyone else I knew had made their rite of passage to destinations across the Strait, and beyond, to broaden their horizons, some never to return to my island. For various reasons, till my mid-twenties, I had remained adhere ...more
Paolo Pietropaolo
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
(Really, I mean 3.5 stars.)

During a recent 2-month sojourn in Melbourne, I saw this book everywhere - in the Readings in Hawthorn (which has a cameo appearance in the book), in bookshops in the CBD, outer eastern suburbs, Camberwell, down the Mornington Peninsula. On the penultimate day of my stay, reluctant to be leaving, I finally purchased a copy (at Hill of Content on Bourke St, for the record). I wanted to take a piece of Melbourne back to Vancouver with me, and this seemed to be the most a
...more
Jillwilson
Dec 05, 2011 rated it liked it
What would any Melbournite wish to write (or read) about Melbourne? What would the reading experience be if you were not from Melbourne? Sophie Cunningham's book is one of a series about different Australian capital cities - Delia Falconer wrote a similar book about Sydney, for example.

It is a beautiful book to handle - a small hardback with rough-cut old style creamy pages and a silky finish to the cover shot of a murky Melbourne laneway. And this book is SO laneway.I felt like I was in a very
...more
The Cats Mother
I'm attempting a new strategy, the 50 page rule: if I'm not enjoying or interested in a book by page 50, unless there's a really good reason to keep going, I should give up and move on. I knew that this would be one of those by page 30, but pushed on to make sure...
One of my book club friends lived in Melbourne and brought this back with her, but didn't exactly rave about it, so it's been on the shelf for a while. I was ready for something a bit different, but not too long, and open to a bit of
...more
Carolyn Mck
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is the third I've read of this series about Australian cities and the one I liked the least. I grew up in Melbourne but it was a very different Melbourne to the inner city Melbourne that Sophie Cunningham describes. Her views are partial and rather self-indulgent, I thought. At times I wondered who she thought her readers were - perhaps the inner circle of people who knew the many names in the literary and artistic worlds she inhabits.

I did like the concept behind the book - it's always di
...more
Leonie Starnawski
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed and parts of it that revealed interesting historical facts about Melbourne - such as the small section about the West Gate Bridge disaster. But I really felt that it should have been presented more as "Sophie Cunningham's Melbourne", rather than a book about Melbourne written by Cunningham...it was a very personal story and at times it felt like it was written specifically for her friends.
Catherine
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
LIke spending quality time with a best friend, if you didn't love this city before reading this book you definitely will afterwards. A lovely intimate read.
Ben Lever
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urbanism
Part of the New South Cities Series, for which the University of NSW Press published books on some of the major cities of Australia, this book tells the story of Melbourne through the lens of Sophie Cunningham's experience of 2009. Despite this present-day memoir style, Cunningham tells the history of everything she encounters in this year, both in terms of the personal significance the places hold for her, as the place she grew up in, and in terms of the longer history, stretching back to the e ...more
Jo Case
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sophie Cunningham’s Melbourne is not your average local history book. Stories of Cunningham’s school days in Hawthorn and publishing adventures in Fitzroy and Carlton sit alongside the colonial settlement of Melbourne, the damming and many diversions of the Yarra, and events like the West Gate Bridge disaster of 1970, in which 35 construction workers fell to their deaths, or the infamous Hoddle Street massacre. Cunningham writes, ‘The cityscape has been embroidered over the years with impression ...more
Jess
Melbourne is Sophie Cunningham's memoir, history and study of the city's culture, and a warm love letter to Melbourne itself. Recounting life in Melbourne through one year - from the horrific 2009 bushfires to the hailstorms that battered the city just over a year later - weaving it through these seasonal changes makes for a deft play on the old "four seasons in one day" adage that, until recently, typified the unpredictable Melbourne weather.

Cunningham's approaches Melbourne in a memoir told t
...more
Felicity
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Fittingly, this was my last read of 2011. I started 2011 in Melbourne (well, not technically...down on the Peninsula, but by the 2nd, I was back in Melbourne), and I would have been back there right now (no one in their right mind chooses to spend winter in Wisconsin) lolling about in the heat were it not for post-New Year's demands in the U.S.

It's hard for me to be objective about this book. I love Melbourne so much, particularly the Melbourne about which Cunningham writes...her inner-city stom
...more
Brian SIdlo
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: melbourne, memoir
This book is a memoir of Sophie Cunningham's relationship with Melbourne and its people.

Don't expect an exhaustive history of the city. It's a judicious blend of well-known Melbourne stories and historical information of interest, mixed with personal stories and memories. The author's working life and interests set the direction for a lot of the subject matter- the arts, architecture, the environment, footy.

She gives inner suburbs such as Fitzroy a fair bit of attention, which is understandable
...more
Carolyn Francis
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
If this memoir about life and the arts in Melbourne wasn't so damn charming and delightful its relentless name dropping might have been tiresome. Instead it's the best of the Melbourne you know, and a kind of aspirational fantasy of the Melbourne you wish you were cultured and well-connected enough to know.

Sophie Cunningham's Melbourne meanders through Fitzroy, Carlton, La mamas, The Standard, The Black Cat, the MCG, the Zoo, rising house prices, multiculturalism, gentrification, Black Saturday,
...more
Sophie Gow
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Melbourne is a must for all home sick Melbournians. It makes you want to go back and visit your own stomping ground just as Sophie has done. While this book is a snapshot of a year in Melbourne, beginning with the horrific bush fires of 2009, it is also a reminder that one person’s Melbourne is certainly not another’s. Melbourne holds her secrets close and Sophie reveals some of them but they are Sophie’s stories and experiences and other Melbournians may not relate at all. She revisits the subu ...more
Pancreas
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is such a special book. Part history of Melbourne and part memoir, it tracks a year in Sophie Cunningham's Melbourne life. There is such a richness of coverage here - areas from Footscray to Camberwell to St. Kilda and Melbourne's literary, art, music and sporting worlds and of course the weather that defines our city. Cunningham describes Melbourne moments that are new to me as well as those I look back on, be it fondly or sadly, as is the case for the recent Black Saturday bushfires. With ...more
Sally Edsall
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
I wanted to like this book much more than I did.
Parts were okay, but it was vaguely irritating.

Melbourne writer Sophie Cunningham is disdainful of "the suburbs" (she grew up in Hawthorn) and looks at Melbourne from her smug complacency in Fitzroy.

Her world mostly extends from Firzroy to Carlton, Brunswick and the ciry, with occasional forays to far-away St Kilda.

She does Pilates at 6:30am and rides her bike through downpours.

As befits a book about Melbourne there's a fairly long section abo
...more
Vicky
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I read this for book club and although I found some parts interesting, on the whole it wasn't what I would call enjoyable.

The book is based on a year in the life of Melbourne, but really it is a lot about the author. I share a love of this city, and liked learning some things I didn't know - even about my local area; but all the name-dropping got annoying to me - I really don't care about celebrities. Also, the way it was put together seemed contrived : now it is winter, so talk about footy; or
...more
Mary
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think I need to re-read this little book while walking the streets of Melbourne (or riding a tram) and perhaps then I'd award it 5 stars. There's more history, social commentary, current affairs, SPORTS (for goodness sake!) than I could possibly absorb without pictures or a map. The bibliography in the back is all marked up, now, and I'm on a mission to find and read many of the books referred to in this one!

If you're curious, read it! But be ready to devote some serious time, because it's no
...more
Sasha Sheko
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great mix of the author's own experience and life in Melbourne, and researched material on Melbourne's history. Very engaging and personal tone creates a story, rather than just providing facts. Links together the various and disparate elements that make Melbourne what it is - sport, food, immigration, weather, communities, writing, etc.
Calzean
Some good bits but instead of getting a book on Melbourne, it was a book on the author's life and environs living in inner city Melbourne. There is lots on the Melbourne book and writing scene.
Melbourne spans 10,000 sq kms. but this book spans only a small part of the geographic, commercial, cultural, ethnic and history of the city. A pity because it is a beautifully produced book.
char
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it
I learnt a lot - it has some very interesting 'don't put the book down' moments..but I also got bored quite a lot too!
And for my liking it mentions Sydney just a few too many times for a book that's about Melbourne (but don't get me wrong I like Sydney!).
Overall yes it was an interesting read on Melbourne's culture, history, geography, and, (some) of it's people.
Johanna
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was really interesting and I will be keen to read the rest of the series. Focused on the inner suburbs/literature/afl. If you're interested in these topics, as I am, you will love it - otherwise it may seem a bit narrow. Highlights were reading the history of so many familiar inner city sites.
Spectrahedron
May 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
The book oscillates between some fairly well known and rather random stories about Melbourne and author's CV.

I made through about third of the book, up to the point when the author indulges in describing her career achievements as an editor, spelling the possessive its as "it's" in the middle of that passage (see page 105).

Pretentios self indulgent overpriced book.
Rom Caitlin
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed reading this while holidaying in Melbourne. It gives a social history of Melbourne, while also giving a good insight into where to go and enjoy Melbourne. I think it gives a really good insight into the culture of Melbourne and certainly enhanced my trip. I'd recommend it to Melburnians too as a way to discover some extra parts of your city. The writer has a very engaging style.
Catherine
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book didn't work for me. It was filled with references I didn't understand -- to Australian and particularly Melbourne politics, sports, art. I think it is probably a nice read for someone with more local knowledge.
Elizabeth
Jan 22, 2013 marked it as to-read
also in series: Check out “Melbourne” by Sophie Cunningham, “Sydney” by Delia Falconer, “Alice Springs” by Eleanor Hogan, “Adelaide” by Kerryn Goldsworthy, “Brisbane” by Mathew Condon and “Hobart” by Peter Timms.
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