Biography and Memoir reviews

Dancer: A Biography for Philippa Cullen by Evelyn Juers

The dancer, Philippa Cullen, died tragically in India at the age of 25. Evelyn Juers’ biography of this complex young woman runs to 550 pages. You may think, do Cullen’s life and achievements justify…

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How We Love: Notes on a Life by Clementine Ford

There are so many adages running through my head as I try to sum up the latest work of author and commentator Clementine Ford. Mainly though, I have Tina Turner’s words on repeat: what’s love got to …

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How to End a Story: Diaries, 1995–1998 by Helen Garner

One can only imagine the enormous bravery it must take to publish a diary. Sharing your most private thoughts with the world is not for the faint of heart. But, faint of heart is not a term I would e…

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Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit

As a lover of Rebecca Solnit’s writing, I was thrilled at the prospect of her unique perspective on one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. And Solnit does not disappoint. Orwell’s R

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Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef

Let me tell you where I have been this week – Cairo! Jealous? Of course, but the good news is you can go too. I loved the visit: it was hot, culturally interesting, and I browsed a wonderful bookshop…

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Whole Notes: Life Lessons Through Music by Ed Ayres

Writer, musician, teacher and broadcaster Ed Ayres had the idea for his fourth book, Whole Notes: Life Lessons Through Music, long before the pandemic. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a book more f…

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Nina Simone’s Gum by Warren Ellis

When I was a boy, my mother declared chewing gum to be a filthy habit. I dutifully took up smoking. Dr Nina Simone chose to do both, right up to the end. And why not. She was a god. Tempestuous and m…

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Funkytown by Paul Kennedy

The title of Paul Kennedy’s memoir, ‘Funkytown’, is the name that Kennedy’s sister gives to Frankston, the large suburb next to their home in Seaford in bayside Melbourne. The ABC journalist grew up …

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Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir by Akwaeke Emezi

Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir is written as a collection of letters to friends. It’s both exhilarating and exhausting – like a friend calling you up and unloading their dramas onto you – but …

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My Friend Fox by Heidi Everett

Heidi Everett meets her friend the fox on a rainy, winter’s night in Melbourne. She has been walking for two weeks. The encounter is life-changing as the fox helps her to understand that she needs su…

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