Book Reviews

Varina

 

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

Charles Frazier, in his new novel Varina, takes the reader back to the American Civil War years in America, just as he did in Cold Mountain, a very well-known novel of the recent past.

The novel switches from the early 20th Century back to the 1840s quite seamlessly as we journey with mixed-race teacher, James Blake, as he searches for information about his earlier life.

Walking down a street one day he heard snatches of a song which triggered hazy memories of an earlier time and feelings of love. Later on reading a marbled … Read the rest

Empress: Queen Victoria and India

Reviewed by Ian Lipke

Miles Taylor’s mammoth study of the relationship between Queen Victoria and India is a pleasing, authoritative, engaging, scholarly piece of writing that should be read by all those with an interest in ways that a queen, as distinct from the government she heads, builds and maintains the governance and respect of a colonial people. The title is critical in understanding that we are discussing a personal engagement. It is the ways in which the Queen engages with India that is important.

The book is structured around three themes, each interwoven through the chronological narrative. The first … Read the rest

Sun Music: New and Selected Poems

Reviewed by Ian Lipke
It has been many years since I have enjoyed the comprehensiveness of a major poet, and striven to reach the intellectual level at which Judith Beveridge’s verse lies, relaxed and casually presented in her Sun Music: New and Selected Poems. I am a huge fan of her breadth and especially the depth of her knowledge. She is an expert in the different forms of verse and when their use is or is not appropriate.

She exhibits a sophisticated knowledge of technology. One senses a Buddhist ethos permeating a number of poems (sometimes explicitly as in The … Read the rest

Pastels in the Musee Du Louvre

It is not often that the Louvre Museum in Paris publishes a collection of their holdings in book form. We need to go back to 1972 when Genevieve Monnier compiled a catalogue of pastel works to thus make it possible to assess the diversity and importance of the Collection. Her catalogue focused on the attributions, provenances and identities of the sitters of the 135 pastels then owned by the museum. All drawings were published in black and white as colour would have been beyond the Louvre’s available funds. Now we have a catalogue in colour, in magnificent, gobsmacking colour (if … Read the rest

A Long Way from No Go by Tjanera Goreng Goreng (with Julie Szego)

Reviewed by Ian Lipke

A reviewer’s task is to ascertain the author’s purpose in writing a book and to make an informed decision about the extent to which the writer has been successful. This is particularly important in the case of Tjanera Goreng Goreng’s memoir A Long Way from Go Go. The author holds a high profile in many areas of Australia and is known to a large number of people at the local, national and international levels. She is highly articulate, feels strongly about various issues, and creates decided Positive-Negative responses to her points of view. There are … Read the rest

King Henry VIII and the Men who Made Him

Tracey Borman’s thesis makes very clear that she is interested in a book that gives her readers “the king’s character and tastes, the motives for his decisions and the impact of his actions, the creation and evolution of his image from Renaissance prince to tyrant, and the legacy that he bequeathed to the men who survived him” (7). She finds what she is looking for in the men who fed off him.

It seems that Hans Holbein was the artist who unwittingly tells us more about the king than any other. His famous portrait of King Henry is a vision … Read the rest