Book reviews

Well-Behaved Women by Australian author Emily Paull came to my attention after I read Whispering Gums’ review of this collection of short stories. You can read WG’s review here:

I didn’t think there were any weak links in this collection and can honestly say that I enjoyed and appreciated each story. They all featured contemporary Australian characters, most of whom were living in Western Australia. There was something in each story that resonated with me.

Miss Lovegrove is the story of a young, would-be actor and her relationship with the director of a play she is performing in. The director is a bitter former soap star who bullied her cast well past the point of abuse, who when challenged claimed that her actions would make the young woman the best future actor she could be.

Crying in Public tells the story of a woman whose grandmother inspired her to move on from the end of a relationship. While I felt sympathetic towards the narrator whose heart had been broken, I wanted to be the fearless grandmother who led by example.

Sister Madly Deeply is the story of a woman whose sister was dying of cancer. While this is a sad story it also allows the reader to feel hope, inspired by the character’s courage and to be reminded that mistakes can be rectified.

Dora contains the important information that “a diet can never make you as happy as a piece of blueberry cheesecake.” Now that’s a mantra I like.

A Thousand Words and Down South struck me as being particularly Western Australian, more so than any of the other stories in the collection possibly because both were set south of Perth in the Bunbury and Margaret River area.

The Woman at the Writer’s Festival and Picnic at Green’s Pool are mysteries with unreliable narrators. Both stories left me wondering what really happened.

My favourite story in the collection was The Things We Rescued. As the narrator and her husband fled a bushfire with a random assortment of possessions they stopped to collect a homeless woman, who, after being persuaded to flee with them, abandoned her own possessions because they were just junk.

The book title, Well-Behaved Women, is explained by a sentence on the book’s covering suggesting that well-behaved women rarely make history. Maybe not, but well-behaved or otherwise, women’s stories are worth telling and hearing, just the same. This book is a terrific debut from an author who I’ll be glad to read more of.

My purchase of Well-Behaved Women by Emily Paull completed my New Year’s resolution to buy a book by an Australian author during each month of 2020 (December). I enjoyed this resolution so much that I intend to do this again throughout 2021.

Comments on: "Well-Behaved Women by Emily Paull" (13)

  1. I’m so glad you liked this book, and that I inspired you to read it Rose, and I’m so glad you are going to continue your resolution next year. I’m sorry that I’ve dropped off checking in a bit lately. My elder care responsibilities on top of everything else are really overwhelming me. I read about 20 pages a day at the moment. It’s depressing.

    I loved you comment that “I wanted to be the fearless grandmother who led by example.” I know the feeling!

  2. Well-Behaved Women was a great ending for my year and I’m very grateful for your recommendation.
    Life isn’t the same when you’re not reading enough to satisfy you, is it? I feel sorrier for the non-readers amongst us, though, who don’t know what they are missing.
    I get the feeling that you really are the fearless grandmother who leads by example, Sue!

  3. This sounds like an interesting collection of stories! I’ve been reading more short stories lately. If this one becomes available in the UK I will check it out.

  4. Sounds great! I always like when a collection is varied and it sounds like this one certainly is. You’ve done really well with your Australian reading this year – it’s clearly thriving over there.

  5. No it isn’t you’re right, Rose, but yes I agree re non-readers.

    As for the rest, thanks!

  6. congratulations and looking forward to next years resolution titles!

  7. I ordered Well-Behaved Women from the Margaret River Press, not sure how widely available it is but I haven’t seen it in a bookshop in Melbourne yet (admittedly, I’ve only been in one since Melbourne’s lockdown eased).

  8. Thank you, Jane ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. There have been a couple of books that needed better editing but on the whole I’ve had a really good year of reading Australian novels. Plus I feel smug about successfully completing my resolution ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Your smugness is well-deserved!

  11. I think so, too ๐Ÿ˜‰

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