Oct 2012

This book is a wonderful example of how a single image can spark a large and powerful story. Toni Jordan has imagined the lives and trajectories of nine characters over eighty years, all from the beginning point of a randomly found photograph (shown on the cover).

With one exception, these vividly drawn characters are from three generations of the Westaway clan and their stories are taken from 1939 until about 2018. Each voice is distinct and authentic, and there is...

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Dec 2012

Ideas of what make a story a novella vary. Most definitions centre on length: 17,000-40,000 words, some as low as 10,000. Another characteristic that can distinguish a novella from a short story is added complexity (there is room to develop subplots).

Having said that, the very first piece in the collection, The Water of Life, while being one of the more complex stories (and possibly one of the best), at about 6,500 words, cannot be classed as a novella; it is a short...

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Jan 2013

My bleary red eyes have picked up the searing natural light creeping under the window flaps. We are on the downhill run now. There is stirring and movement and a frisson of anticipation as breakfast is served and people peer eagerly out of their windows for their first sight of Sydney. I have not seen my home for two whole months.

For this homesick Aussie there is nothing like swooping in over our shimmering harbour city.  Her décolletage of dark craggy coves, speckled...

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Jan 2013

Maggie has parked her implacable arse in its usual spot on the edge of the stone retaining wall that keeps my terraced garden from invading the house. She has a cigarette in one hand and a globe of semillon in the other. The glass sliding door is open only enough so that I can hear her from the kitchen, where I am throwing a salad together. Her crossed legs don’t quite reach the ground and she dangles her flat suede shoes off her toes while her substantial calves stretch...

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Jan 2013

I shift the phone to my other ear and glance at my watch. Thank goodness Fay gets cheap calls from the States, I think for the hundredth time.

‘…and it was just sooo cold, we scooted into this bar. Well, they were just about to start a speed dating event weren’t they, and they must have been a bit short of women, because the organiser pounced on us before we’d even got our coats off, and we got invited to join for free.’

‘Speed dating? God, you’d never get me doing...

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Jan 2013

Hey babe, are you back already? Why aren’t you snoozing off your jetlag?’

‘I’m not too bad, actually. I reckon I’ve got till mid afternoon before I’ll need starch for my eyelids. Thanks for looking after stuff for me: the plants all seem to be clinging onto life and the pile of mail looks utterly frightening.’

‘Yeah. You sure have a large fan club. You’ll see I left you some spag bol in the fridge and there’s also a new carton of soy.’

‘Aww, Stace. You’re the...

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Jan 2013

I’m lucky to have good teeth. I’m in my mid 30s and still no fillings. So I get my teeth cleaned and checked religiously every six months. The worst thing about going to the dentist is the waiting room. I am like a moth drawn to the flame with those glossy papered bon bons. I know they are high calorie and low in nutritional value but I just cannot resist them. And I would never buy them for myself, which gives them that additional verboten tang.

I sit there flicking...

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© 2012 Alicia Thompson
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