Eliza Henry-Jones is an Australian novelist whose work explores concepts of grief, loss, and convalescence, particularly focusing on representations of bushfire trauma in fiction, which was the subject of her honours thesis. Her debut novel In the Quiet, published in 2015, was loved by critics and reads alike. Her second novel Ache was our Book of the Week in June. You can check it out here.
There’s nothing like reading a book that stays with you, long after you’ve turned the final page. This is a list of books by Australian women that still haunt me. Some of them I read in 2017 and some of them I’ve read many, many years ago.
The Way Back by Kylie Ladd: I could not put Kylie Ladd’s latest novel down. It’s a raw, complex and ultimately hopeful story of what happens when a teenaged girl comes back to her family after being abducted from a wild and mountainous national park outside of Melbourne. Remarkably, it has the tension of a crime novel even though you know from the outset that Charlie makes it home.
The Hope Fault by Tracy Farr: The Hope Fault is an immensely insightful, generous and clever novel that drew me in utterly. Set over a single weekend, Tracy Farr weaves the complexities of family, memory and all the small, seemingly insignificant moments that add up to create meaning in our lives.
Swallow The Air by Tara June Winch: This startling and beautiful debut novella from Indigenous author, Tara June Winch, begins with the a young girl called May tragically losing her mother. Tara’s writing is incredibly powerful and poetic.
Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder: Drawing on some of her own deeply personal childhood experiences, Jesse weaves a devastating and very human story about the family of a little boy who drowns.
Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears: Foal’s Bread, set in 1920s New South Wales, is the gritty, heartbreaking and haunting story of the Nancarrow family. I picked this book up six years ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It explores family, landscape and the relationship between people and horses.
Darkness on the Edge of Town by Jessie Cole: This stunning debut novel is a meditation on family, landscape and community. Set in the lush NSW hinterland, local man Vincent stumbles across a car accident that has claimed the life of a baby and is drawn into a strange, uncomfortable.
Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar: This beautiful and evocative debut novel, set on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia in the 1850s is a rich and moving exploration of families, longing and the wild landscape of the Coorong.
Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman: This thought provoking, powerful and at times darkly funny collection of short stories explores what it is to be a young woman – the yearning, fury, confusion and delight of it.
On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: This poignant YA novel is one I first read when I was sixteen. I have re-read it so many times since that the cover has fallen off. It deals with some very dark issues in a way that is warm, generous and deeply human.