BOOK REVIEW: The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie (Review by Hayley Shephard)

9781921901423I absolutely loved The Perfect Rake, so when I was given the chance to read and review Anne Gracie’s new book The Spring Bride, I just knew I had to put other books on my list aside. It didn’t disappoint!

The life of its female lead, Jane Chance, has not been smooth sailing. Following the old cliché it stands to reason she would meet her happily ever after right off the bat, but instead she accepts a proposal from a man she feels no attraction to but could provide her with security. I tripped over myself while reading this play out, but in the end came to regard her as a strong selfless female, trying to ensure her safety and survival in a society that can be horribly cruel. Anne Gracie is such a wonderful writer that I questioned whether I even wanted to know what happened in the end.

Enter Zachary Black. Admittedly, I tend to steer clear from male leads that are undercover. To my surprise it was actually refreshing to have the pair not on equal footing, with the male considered beneath the female. Consequently, the feelings that simmer between the two reads stronger for me, even when some truths are revealed. He begins to help Jane realise that perhaps love has a greater part to play in creating a happy future rather than just safety and security.

In return, she makes him see things differently and think about what he really wants. With a past full of espionage and now suddenly faced with criminal charges, who wouldn’t? On a side note you can’t help but laugh and snort when, through the words of Anne Gracie, you picture Zach trying to mingle with polite society.

After reading this book I am dying to find out how it all came to be for the other characters. This is book 3 of the series, which can be read as a standalone, but I can’t wait to read books 1 and 2 in the series.

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here


The Spring Bride

The Chance Sisters Series : Book 3

by Anne Gracie

On the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. And after a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable – a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own. If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined – and he’s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

About the Author

Anne Gracie spent her childhood and youth on the move, thanks to her father’s job, which took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humour and love are universal languages and that favourite books can take you home, wherever you are.

Anne started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world. Originally published by Harlequin Books, she now writes Regency-era historical romances for Berkley (Penguin USA) and Penguin Australia, but instead more…

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here

REVIEW: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn (Review by Hayley Shephard)

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthythe-secrets-of-sir-richard-kenworthy was a fun, engaging read. While at times I was filled with anxiety for the characters I was also laughing really hard at other moments. And trust me, it takes something really special to make me laugh hard.

That’s what I love about regency books and authors today, especially Julia Quinn. The stories reflect humans that are just as strange, endearing and awkward as their modern counterparts. I am not saying that they are more romantic than stories written actually during the era or a contemporary romance, it’s just nice to read.

The heroine, Miss Iris Smythe-Smith, has been forced into marriage with a man called Sir Richard Kenworthy. And he’s a man with a secret. But what is it?

Julia Quinn kept me guessing. She lulled me into a false sense of security. She kept me entertained, and I forgot to search for clues. Not only was the writing so descriptive but the banter, the interplay between the characters, was perfect for two people who are trying to deal with what was before them. So awkward is it at times that I was both bordering on hysterics and wincing, covering my eyes.

What’s the secret? How did Iris find herself in this mess? I guess you’ll just have to read it and find out.

As for me, this book will definitely be re-read.

Grab a copy of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy here


The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy

by Julia Quinn

From New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the final, dazzling installment of a four-book series featuring the Smythe-Smiths.

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second-or third-look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s the one.

Iris Smythe-Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can’t quite believe it’s all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can’t help thinking that he’s hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

About the Author

During her senior year at Harvard College, Julia Quinn (often known in cyberspace as JQ) realized that she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. This depressed her. In fact, the only thing that saved her sanity during this dark, dreary time was the fact that none of her friends knew, either. So she sat down with a big tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a good book and decided to figure out what to do.

Getting a job seemed too difficult. She wouldn’t mind HAVING a job, but she certainly didn’t know how to get one.

Law school seemed too annoying. Everyone hated lawyers, and Julia liked to be more…

Grab a copy of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy here


BOOK REVIEW: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Review by Shikha Shah)

Looking for the winners of our Facebook competition? Scroll to the bottom of the post…

All the Bright Places is a heartbreaking and touching novel exploring a wide range of issues such as depression, mental disorders, suicide, coping with the loss of a loved one and finding hope.

The book begins with Theodore Finch – an outsider with his own unique brand of coolness –standing on his high school’s bell tower asking himself “Is today a good day to die?”. He then gets distracted by the sight of Violet Markey – a popular girl who seems to have everything – standing on the other side of the bell tower. Finch proceeds to calmly convince Violet to step off the edge and so begins a complicated relationship that will change both their lives.

Violet and Finch come across each other under extreme circumstances and they are both broken in their own way. Finch helps Violet fight her inner demons and her guilt over her sister’s death. He encourages her to experience new things and see new places, helping Violet to find herself again. Unfortunately, Violet struggles to helps Finch in the same way.

This is not a typical boy-meets-girl love story about overcoming all obstacles to live happily-ever-after. Instead, this book delves into deeper real-life issues. All the Bright Places takes readers on a tragic journey as Violet and Finch each fight their own battle against depression. It also deals with the aftermath of what happens when someone cannot be helped…

If you enjoyed reading Solitaire by Alice Osmon as much as I did and The Last time we say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand, then this novel is a must-read. A little warning to readers – have a tissue box handy as this novel will probably going to make you cry like a baby.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


all-the-bright-placesAll the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I’m broken, and no one can fix it.

Violet Markey us devastated by her sister’s death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.

They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves . . .

I send a message to Violet: ‘You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.’

You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

About the Author

Jennifer Niven is the author of two narrative non-fiction books, The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack; a high school memoir, The Aqua Net Diaries; and four historical novels for adults: Velva Jean Learns to Drive (based on her Emmy Award-winning film of the same name), Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine, and the forthcoming American Blonde. All the Bright Places is her first book for young adults.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


FACEBOOK COMPETITION WINNERS

Congratulations to Jessica Gilham, Marie Davis, Barbara Clapperton, Julie Clark and Adey McKinney!

Email us at promos@booktopia.com.au with your address details to claim your prize!

BOOK REVIEW: The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox (Review by Caroline Baum)

First of all the cover: this has to be one of the most stylish and eye-catching jackets of the year, signposting both the amorous subject matter but also a kind of sexily suave Mad Men Don Draper silhouette that suggests surface sleekness concealing enigmatic multiple identities.

The sophisticated packaging delivers on its promise – and then some. This is one of the big books of the year. You know that phrase that critics use about a writer at the peak of his powers? Well, this is the time to apply that to Knox, who has been one of our most significant writers mining aspects of contemporary masculinity for a while in novels like Summerland and The Life.

Here he applies his customary cool, detached and forensic tone to a story that is enigmatic, satirical and rich in layers and symbolism. It is disconcertingly strange at first, especially in its removed, rationally detached voice but don’t let that put you off. Get past the initial chill of the first fifty pages and you will find yourself increasingly seduced by the tale of John Wonder and his women.

The comparison with Don Draper goes beyond the packaging. Because the point is that both men are indeed enigmas who conceal their inner and private lives from themselves and from others, enabled by careers that allow them to move seamlessly between worlds.

Except what makes John Wonder so very different from Don Draper is that the outer casing of the man is not inherently attractive. He does not possess a handsome physique and nor is he charismatic when it comes to his personality. He is, according to one of his six collective narrator children, odourless and bland. Women feel safe around him because he is not predatory by nature. And indeed, unlike Draper’s glamorous world of advertising, Wonder’s is far more pedestrian and pedantic: he is a senior factoid who authenticates official statistics for publications of record. Hardly the sexiest of titles.

Happily married simultaneously, and able to juggle the demands of three sets of children (all called Adam and Evie, presumably to avoid confusion) he then decides to set himself a new challenge: to authenticate the world’s most beautiful woman. And that’s where he comes disastrously unstuck. When he finds her, his multiple lives unravel.

The scenario provides for plenty of comedy though it is not of the farcical ‘quick-now-hide in-the-cupboard’ kind (with the exception of a muddle involving a Hyundai car). It is more cerebral than that kind of romp. Knox hits his comic stride in his characterisation of Wife Number Two, a fiery type who can’t distinguish between the expressions ‘because’ and ‘that’s why’, (I can’t help but imagine Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara in this role).

Will Wonder’s serial infidelities see him damned, punished and abandoned? And what of the world’s most beautiful woman? What does she make of Wonder’s protracted infatuation and courtship? Can his children ever forgive his betrayal? The climax of the story has an inevitability about it, as all moral fables do, and a surprising warmth that Don Draper, whose adventures in parallel lives end later this year, might envy.

Grab a copy of The Wonder Lover here

——————————————————-

Caroline Baum has worked as founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor for Vogue, presenter of ABC TV’s popular bookshow, Between the Lines, and Foxtel’s Talking Books, and as an executive producer with ABC Radio National. She is currently Booktopia’s Editorial Director.


The Wonder Lover

by Malcolm Knox

The compartments in our father’s life were not the separations he needed to build to preserve his sanity. They were his sanity. When he fell in love… when he fell to the abjection he deserved, the walls began dissolving. And once the walls came down between all three, or now four, of his lives, so did every other retaining wall – between past and present, present and future, self- and non-self, dream and wakefulness. The walls were his sanity. Love had driven him mad….

This is the story of John Wonder, a man with three families, each one kept secret from the other, each one containing two children, a boy and a girl, each called Adam and Evie. As he travels from family to family in different cities, he works as an Authenticator, verifying world records, confirming facts, setting things straight, while his own life is a teetering tower of breathtaking lies and betrayals…

About the Author

Malcolm Knox is the author of Summerland, A Private Man and Jamaica, which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award last year and won the Colin Roderick Award. He is also a Walkley- Award-winning journalist and author of many non-fiction titles. He came late to surfing, but is now an obsessively enthusiastic surfer, and writes about surfing and the surf with authority and great passion.

Grab a copy of The Wonder Lover here

GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Rachael Johns lists her Top Ten Romance Books

We’re so lucky to be able to host guest blogs from some of Australia’s Favourite Authors, and with the dust settling on Valentine’s Day, we’ve got a special treat for Romance lovers. A guest blog from romance bestseller Rachael Johns!

Rachael unveils her Top Ten Romance Books of All-Time. Did your favourites make the cut?


Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

bridget-jones-s-diaryThis book was the first book I read and enjoyed after a long drought in high school. It reignited my passion for reading and partly inspired me to write my own book.

Blurb: In the course of the year recorded in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way). In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year’s resolution–the quest for the right man. A dazzling urban satire of modern human relations? An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family? Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

Celebrating 40 years of outstanding international writing, this is one of the essential Picador novels reissued in a beautiful new series style.

Grab a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary here


Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

wallbangerIt was one of my fave reads of 2013, I laughed out loud in so many places but I also loved the way the author portrays the development of the friendship and romance.

Burb: The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an—um—intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed “dating hiatus,” and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise …

Grab a copy of Wallbanger here


Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

heart-of-the-valleySuch a heart-wrenching story that had me teary early on. This is a hard feat. I rarely cry in books!

Blurb: Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own …

Grab a copy of Heart of the Valley here


Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

northern-lightsThis was my first ever Nora Roberts novel and since then I’ve read loads more. She is not known as the Queen of Romance for nothing and I love the way she crafts characters.

Blurb: Lunacy, Alaska – population 506 – is Nate Burke’s last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he had watched his partner die – and the guilt still haunts him. Maybe serving as Chief of Police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by mid-afternoon and temperatures fall to below zero, will bring some kind of solace. It isn’t as if he has anywhere else to go Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose and pulling apart two brothers fighting overJohn Wayne’s best movie Nate’s first weeks on the job are relatively quiet …

Grab a copy of Northern Lights here


The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella by Liz Fielding

the-secret-life-of-lady-gabriellaThis book broadened my thinking about what a Mills & Boon book was and I gobbled it up in one sitting.

Blurb: Lady Gabriella March is the perfect domestic goddess at least, that’s what her editor at Milady magazine thinks. In truth she’s simply Ellie March, cleaner and aspiring writer, who uses the beautiful mansion she is housesitting to inspire her.

When the owner returns unexpectedly, Ellie’s fledgling writing career is threatened. But even more dangerous is the man himself! Gorgeous Dr Benedict Faulkner is quite the opposite of the aging academic she imagined, and soon it is her heart, and not just her secret, that is exposed.

 Grab a copy of The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella here


the-ultimate-heroThe Magnate’s Indecent Proposal by Ally Blake

Another favourite Mills & Boon of mine. I loved the cute premise of this book and the rest of the book lived up to it.

Blurb: After her third nuisance call of the morning, Chelsea finally twigged. She must have accidentally swapped mobile phones with someone in the cafe that morning! To her pleasant surprise, the owner was darkly handsome and seriously sexy Damien ‘Rich-list’ Halliburton. Chelsea had sworn off men long ago, and hadn’t since been tempted. But with a guy this gorgeous how could she refuse his wicked, seductive and very indecent proposal?

Grab a copy of The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal here


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudiceWhat can I say? Jane Austen is a master of romance and Mr Darcy is swoon-worthy!

Blurb: When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships,gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

Grab a copy of Pride and Prejudice here


Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

too-good-to-be-trueMy first Higgins book and definitely not my last. I adore Kristan’s writing and the embarrassing situations she throws her heroines into.

Blurb: When Grace Emerson’s ex-fiance starts dating her younger sister, extreme measures are called for. To keep everyone from obsessing about her love life, Grace announces that she’s seeing someone… Someone wonderful. Someone handsome. Someone completely made up.

Who is this Mr Right? Someone…exactly unlike her renegade neighbour Callahan O’Shea. Well, someone with his looks, maybe. His hot body. His knife-sharp sense of humour. His smarts and his big heart. Whoa. No. Callahan O’Shea is not her perfect man! Not with his unsavoury past. So why does Mr Wrong feel so…right?

Grab a copy of Too Good To Be True here


Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

faking-itThe love scene from this book stands out as being one of my fave love scenes of all times. The sex wasn’t clichéd at all, in fact it was almost too real but somehow it worked and taught me a lot about what makes a believable and affective sex scene.

Blurb: Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who run a respectable art gallery—and have for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch, who likes to escape reality; Eve, the oldest daughter, who has a slight identity problem (she has two); Nadine, the granddaughter, who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. And last, Matilda, the youngest daughter, who has inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, a secret she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, even break into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past …


The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie

the-perfect-rakeThis was my first Anne Gracie and my first historical with actual sex in it. Until that moment, I didn’t know such fabulous love scenes were allowed in historical books. I love all of Anne’s characters, but her hero in this book is to-die-for.

Blurb: She ran from a brute…
Fleeing the harsh guardianship of her grandfather, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke… But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster…

Grab a copy of The Perfect Rake here


About Rachael Johns

rachael johnsRachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a supermarket owner by day, a mum 24/7, and a writer by night. She lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training.

At 17 she began writing, enlightened by the thought that she could create whatever ending she liked, and almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, she joined the Romance Writers of Australia association.

It was there that Rachael learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts. She learnt about the craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc, and also discovered that she LOVED contemporary romance.

The Road to Hopethe-road-to-hope
by Rachael Johns

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

Pre-order a copy of The Road to Hope here

Bestselling author Kylie Scott reviews Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven!

bad-romeoBad Romeo is the first in a two part series from newcomer, Leisa Rayven. She’s Australian and she’s a romance writer, so there’s two reasons right there to show her some love this Valentine’s Day.

But let’s talk story. Back in the day, Cassie, the good girl acting student, and Ethan, the bad boy on campus, used to go out.

Sadly, Ethan was a douche and it didn’t last. Which brings us to the present day, three years later, where both Cassie and Ethan are making names for themselves on Broadway. And, you guessed it, they’re lined up to play star-crossed lovers, just like when they were cast as Romeo & Juliet years ago, bringing up far too many inconvenient feelings for the both of them.

Just imagine it, coming face to face with your first love and having to deliver words of adoration to the handsome face you’ve long dreamed of punching. The angst and tension between these two is immediate and awesome as all of their combined emotional baggage spills forth. Team that with a dynamic modern voice and you’ve got a book that’ll hold you enraptured to the very end.

Read it. You won’t regret it.

Review by Kylie Scott.

Grab a copy of Bad Romeo here


Bad Romeo

The Starcrossed series : Book 1

by Leisa Rayven

bad-romeo

Cassie Taylor was just another good girl acting student. Ethan Holt was the bad boy on campus. Then one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing onstage, Cassie and Ethan’s epic romance seemed destined. Until it ended in tragedy when he shattered her heart.

Now they’ve made it to Broadway where they’re reunited as romantic leads once again – and their passionate scenes force them to confront the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their intense college affair. For Ethan, losing Cassie was h is biggest regret-and he’s determined to redeem himself. But for Cassie, even though Ethan was her first and only great love, he hurt her too much to ever be trusted again. The trouble is, when it comes to love, sometimes it’s the things that aren’t good for us that are the most irresistible.

Don’t miss the intoxicating romance beloved by more than two million fans online.

Grab a copy of Bad Romeo here


leisarayvern Leisa Rayven is a freelance actor and producer in Brisbane, Australia, who makes frequent trips to LA and NYC. Several of her plays are regularly toured throughout Australia, having received acclaim from audiences and critics alike. She is married and has two small children.


Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association andscottkylieher books have been translated into six different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

Check out the first book in Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series, Lick.

BOOK REVIEW: Nicholas Clements’ Black War (Review by Justin Cahill)

the-black-warIn 1976, Manning Clark famously asked “are we a nation of bastards ?” He was writing about Whitlam’s dismissal. But Clark’s real targets were the “heart dimmers”, the reactionary conservatives who he believed had brought down a man of vision.

Similar elements continue to deny that European settlement here led to war with the Aborigines. Generally, historians have tip-toed around this aspect of our past. Reading their accounts you would think the local people had, after thousands of years living here, simply melted away. But they resisted and it’s time we acknowledged the wars that followed.

Other nations do not share this collective amnesia. In New Zealand, the European settlers’ breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, made with the Māori in 1840, led to over twenty years of civil wars. Those wars have a firm place in New Zealand national history. There are monuments to the dead. Battlefields, such as Rangiriri pā, are protected historic sites. There are movies about the conflict, including Utu, released in 1983.

The frontier wars between the Indians and settlers in America’s west spawned a culture of their own, culminating in 1970 with the publication of Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

But, to paraphrase the historian James Belich, while kids play cowboys and Indians, who plays convicts and Aborigines ? There is has been acknowledgement of such a conflict, the ‘Black War’, in Tasmania. It provided the background for a movie, Manganinnie, released in 1980.

Yet recent accounts of our frontier wars have been marred by sloppy extrapolations of casualty figures from primary sources or by simply ignoring Aboriginal evidence. But how much evidence do we need ? The Tasmanians endured for about 30,000 years then, co-incidentally, were reduced to several hundred within 30 years of European settlement. Are we just too gutless to confront past wrongs ?

Clements

Nicholas Clements

If not, we had better steel ourselves. Clements is open about his political leanings and the limitations of his sources. But the contemporary reports he has found show the Tasmanian government, despite humanitarian protestations, planned to rid the colony of the local people, either by transporting them to island ghettoes or simple extermination. His accounts of their fight for survival are harrowing. Apart from detailing the massacres of poorly armed warriors, he provides vivid accounts of how the women and children were captured, used as sex slaves then often murdered.

Clements’ approach is unique that he gives equal space to the experiences of the settlers, soldiers, emancipists and convicts. He acknowledges they were “…victims of their circumstances …hatreds, frustrations, fears and sadnesses.” For example, most of the convicts transported to Tasmania were not professional criminals, but just working class men who fell on hard times. Shipped to the other side of the world and brutalised by the penal regime, they were left with the bare shreds of humanity. Fear of attack from the local people stripped them of even that – reducing them to the level of broken, snarling dogs.

We pride ourselves that we live in a more civilised age. But Clark’s question remains unanswered. Are we to be a stagnant, introverted society living in denial ? Are we still a nation of bastards ? Clements shows we don’t have to be.

Grab a copy of Nicholas Clements’ Black War here


Justin Cahill is a Sydney-based naturalist and historian. His publications include a biography of the ornithologist Alfred North and A New Life in our History, a history of the European settlement of Australia and New Zealand told from the perspective of ordinary people. He has also written on Chinese history, including the negotiations surrounding Britain’s acquisition of Hong Kong and its decolonisation in 1997.

Justin’s most recent publication is the first part of Epitome for Eleanor: A Short History of the Known Universe, written for children. His current projects include a natural history of Sydney’s Wolli Creek Valley.

He regularly contributes reviews to Booktopia.


the-black-warThe Black War

Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania

by Nicholas Clements

‘At its core, The Black War is a story about two peoples who just wanted to be free of each other . . . sooner or later Europeans and Aborigines were bound to clash, but it was Tasmania’s unique circumstances that turned this encounter into a ‘war of extermination’.’

Between 1825 and 1831 close to 200 Britons and 1000 Aborigines died violently in Tasmania’s Black War. It was by far the most intense frontier conflict in Australia’s history, yet many Australians know little about it. The Black War takes a unique approach to this historic event, looking chiefly at the experiences and attitudes of those who took part in the conflict. By contrasting the perspectives of colonists and Aborigines, Nicholas Clements takes a deeply human look at the events that led to the shocking violence and tragedy of the war, detailing raw personal accounts that shed light on the tribes, families and individuals involved as they struggled to survive in their turbulent world.

The Black War presents a compelling and challenging view of our early contact history, the legacy of which reverberates strongly to the present day.

About the Author

Dr Nicholas Clements is an honorary research associate in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. Born in rural Tasmania in 1982, he now lives in Launceston. Nick is an avid rock climber and bushwalker, whose passion for Tasmania’s landscape and history inspired him to write The Black War.

Grab a copy of Nicholas Clements’ Black War here

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,371 other followers

%d bloggers like this: