Reviewer: Louise Swinn

By this author

Culture September 26, 2020


Hot on the heels of last year’s memoir, Beyond Words: A Life with Kenneth Cook, journalist and author Jacqueline Kent focuses her gaze on the indefatigable women’s rights campaigner Vida Goldstein. Kent has written biographies of pianist …

Culture August 22, 2020

The Pull of the Stars

During the 1918 influenza pandemic, dissenters cut holes in masks to puff on cigars. In the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the hypercaffeinated pull masks to chins for takeaway lattes. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in 1918 it was healthy young people …

Culture July 25, 2020

The Fogging

Novels are uniquely placed to depict the interiority of a person, saving from obsolescence a particular entertainment that is unadulterated crack for some. Luke Horton’s debut, The Fogging, is a study in interiors. Academics Tom and Clara have …

Culture June 27, 2020

On Robyn Davidson

It begins with lightkeeper Esther Nunn, inspired after she is sent Tracks by a friend. Or it begins with author Anna Krien, for whom Robyn Davidson has been a moral compass since, as a child, Krien saw Davidson on the cover of National Geographic. …

Culture June 06, 2020

Notes from an Apocalypse

When British philosopher and mathematician Frank Ramsey wrote in the 1920s that the wellbeing of future generations should not be given less weight than current generations, he was ahead of his time. This consideration might affect how we vote, where …

Culture May 16, 2020


With no time to recover from the recent fire season and the next one looming behind this pandemic, Torched, set in a Yarra Valley town devastated by bushfires, indisputably captures the spirit of the times. Kimberley Starr evokes Brunton, once …

Culture April 25, 2020


At one point in Hamnet, award-winning Irish–British author Maggie O’Farrell’s eighth novel, the cloaked physician is at the door because Hamnet’s twin, Judith, is unwell, and Hamnet asks his mother whether the physician’s mask is sufficient …

Culture April 11, 2020

The Dictionary of Lost Words

At one point early on in this excellent debut novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, set in Oxford 120 years ago, it appears as though Esme may have to choose between getting married and becoming an editor, a choice that doesn’t seem as outdated …

Culture February 29, 2020

Melting Moments

Ruby grows up in the time of the passive tense – when appearance is everything, when she would do well to heed her elders, and when it is acceptable to assume that men only want one thing from a girl. But her daughter, Eva, coming of age with Whitlam …