Blogging at Varuna.
10 days at Varuna, the Writers’ House in the Blue Mountains, and what have I achieved? Not as much as I hoped. Varuna is a lovely old house, but it doesn’t have air conditioning. Last week’s heatwave in New South Wales managed to wipe three days out of my retreat. On one of my three sleepless nights, it was still 27 Celsius at 3am. But this week is much cooler and I am back working now….All right. I haven’t started today because I’m ticking off a few organisational things for the Women’s History month at Eltham Library.
We have a wonderful line up of women writers of history – both fiction and non-fiction authors. There will be book readings, panel discussions and even a book launch, so I do hope to see you there. You can now book your seat via the library – online or by phone:
Congratulations to my friend Adrienne Dillard on the publication of her second novel, The Raven’s Widow. I was delighted and honoured to be asked to read this novel as a beta reader. Here’s my review:
Dillard has a real and wonderful gift for telling history through bringing alive the voices of the past. This richly and meticulously researched work not only gives us a fresh perspective of the Anne Boleyn tale through the eyes of her sister-in-law Jane Boleyn, but also makes us see Jane anew as a woman trying her best to navigate a turbulent and dangerous world. A woman called ‘wicked’ and a major player in two terrible Tudor tragedies, Dillard constructs Jane in an empathetic and sympathetic light. Jane is in a sense ‘everywoman’ – a woman who is swept out of her depths and forced to fight for her own survival as she loses all hope and sanity. The reader feels both for Jane and her husband George Boleyn in a story that tells poignantly of the frailty of the human condition and makes us wonder what we would do in similar circumstances.
The Raven’s Widow powerfully brings home to us that Jane was yet another victim of Henry VIII’s bloody reign.
Talking of books – I was utterly thrilled to receive this wonderful review for Falling Pomegranate Seeds from the Historical Novel Society:
Falling Pomegranate Seeds, volume one of the Katherine of Aragon Story by Australian author Wendy J. Dunn, offers original insight into the future Queen of England’s youthful upbringing by her two formidable parents in the unified courts of Aragon and Castile. As told effectively through the eyes of her tutor, Beatriz Galindo, Katherine (Catalina) and her friend Maria de Salinas are not only educated in letters and religion but in matters of life, war and social turbulence. Catalina is an eager student, and she is reared by her mother, Queen Isabella, to marry, rule, and know when best to display her intelligence. Still, there is mischief, light, and girlish charm to remind us just how young the girls are. These contrasting moments are pivotal, as they bring depth and insight to Dunn’s characters.
Dunn tells a story that is fresh and invigorating, a fascinating conveyance of humanity bound to religion and cultural racism. The worlds of adults and children are separate at times, although when they mix, such as during Isabella’s removal of the Jews, the story offers up soul- searching questions for Beatriz, Catalina, and Maria.
This is a captivating read, written with heart, significance and sensibility. Dunn is a careful writer. She doesn’t exploit her characters; rather, she explores them and brings us along for the journey. This is a novel researched with integrity, and Dunn reaches out and lands beautifully in the winner’s circle. Wendy Zollo, Historical Novels Review.
Time to return to working on my Katherine of Aragon sequel.