Monsters by Alison Croggon

‘I can’t write this story in a straight line.’

A fractured relationship with a sister provides the starting point for this reflective narrative. From the individual (who am I, and where do I fit within the smaller world of family) through the present (including the privileges bestowed by place of birth and colour of skin) to the historical (the impact of British imperialism with its underlying racist and sexist behaviours). And, when these influences are considered and weighed, what of the future? Do we recognise the need to revisit (some at least) of our attitudes? Can we change?

In trying to understand her place in the world, Ms Croggon raises some serious and uncomfortable questions. We each occupy a life shaped by custom, culture, and history. Many of us accept, without question, both the constraints and privileges we are born into. In questioning this for herself, Ms Croggon invites the reader to do the same.

‘I need these narratives that give me a larger picture of who I am.’

I want to reread this book. As I shifted between memoir and essay, between the impact of a fractured relationship and the power structures of the British Empire, my thoughts kept straying to some of the related and painful contemporary issues in Australia.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Scribe UK for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith