She I Dare Not Name by Donna Ward
This is Donna Ward’s first book, but she has been writing for a long time. Her essays have appeared in all our major journals and she is known as a thoughtful and concise author. She I Dare Not Name is her compelling collection of articles about being a woman; alone, keen and compassionate. It is a memoir of sorts, the type that takes you gently through the dreamscape of the author’s life, but also one that shares the pragmatic reality of being an older woman surrounded by families and couples and expectations. To read this collection is to be privy to Donna Ward.
There are several sections within the the compilation, but a common thread progresses through each missive. Why does our society still expect women to be contained in a patriarchal landscape? Why is Australia so dreadful at accepting its own history? Why does someone else being alone make others uncomfortable, as if it’s a problem to be fixed? There are ruminations on silence, dinner parties, friendships and on why Anne Summers is the very best. It is an unashamedly a political book that wears its feminist testimonials well. It is the sort of book you read because you understand implicitly that reading this will guarantee a questioning of your own behaviour, your own biases and your own identity.
However, it is the nature of this book that one should honour; after all, not everyone is courageous enough to be this honest. And we know that not everyone is considerate enough to share that sincerity without requiring a return. Donna Ward is giving readers a gift.