As a writer, here are just some of the things I’ve got up to:
- I spent ten months running a winery-restaurant in the Clare Valley.
- My two sisters and I had a big falling out and didn’t speak to each other for three years.
- I moved to New York, where I not only found a job with a cantankerous old woman, but also met the love of my life.
- I moved from England to Australia with my family and turned an old house in the Victorian goldfields into a tourist attraction.
- I ran a charity shop in a small town.
- I lived on a sheep station in outback South Australia, from where I accidentally sent out a Christmas letter that spilled the beans on all my family’s secrets.
That’s not all. I’ve been busy as a reader too. I’ve been a Cold War spy. A sociopathic Irishman. An international photojournalist. Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. A lighthouse keeper off the coast of Western Australia. A shop assistant in the cocktail dress section of an elegant Sydney department store.*
That’s the wonder of books. Whether we are writing them or reading them, stories take us out of our own lives and put us into other people’s shoes, minds, lives, homes and countries. I learned to read as a four-year-old, sitting on the roof of my family home in country South Australia. I read about the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, about snow and the Mississippi River, about places I never thought I’d see but was still able to imagine. As a writer, I have travelled all around the world fictionally and in real life. I’ve imagined events through my characters’ eyes, laughed with them, cried with them. I’ve had that same experience with other authors’ books.
Reading enriches us in more ways than we can imagine. Books are our passports to new lives and ways of thinking. Our tickets to a world of wonders. Magic carpets for our minds. Happy reading, everyone – not only during Booktoberfest, but every other month of the year too.
*The books I’m referring to are: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré. Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent. Half Moon Bay by Helene Young. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. The Women in Black by Madeleine St John.
by Monica McInerney
For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth.
The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping poorly with retirement. Her 32-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.
Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together – and pull themselves together – in wonderfully surprising ways.