PAUL COLLINS. Marriage equality – some thoughts for the perplexed. | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Throughout human history all types of arrangements have evolved to nurture children, of which a common form is a reasonably stable relationship between woman and man. Whether or not this was seen a…

Source: PAUL COLLINS. Marriage equality – some thoughts for the perplexed. | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race by David Marr

If you’ve not yet read this essay (Quarterly Essay #65) by David Marr and you are concerned about the genesis and influence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, then I recommend reading it.

The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race by David Marr

‘I’m back! One Nation and the politics of race.’

This essay by David Marr is well worth reading, especially by those of us puzzled by the impact of the Hanson phenomenon.  Who’d have thought, after Pauline Hanson’s brief period in the Australian Parliament as the member for Oxley between 1996 and 1998, that she’d be elected as a Senator in 2016, together with three other members of the Pauline Hanson One Nation party?  And who’d have thought that the state of the Australian Parliament is such that Senator Hanson would have such influence in Australian politics?

Who are Pauline Hanson’s supporters, and why do they support her?  Please explain.

In this essay, David Marr sets out to explain some of the mysteries, some of the appeal of the Hanson phenomenon.   Her supporters are overwhelmingly white and Australian born.  They are also people who, while they left school early, have largely been successful.  They are not poor.  Generally, they want a return to a distantly remembered Australia, one in which Australian industries were protected by tariffs, one in which they felt safe, secure and part of a majority.

How much support does Pauline Hanson actually have, and does it matter?  While Pauline Hanson’s following may be comparatively small, it matters.  It matters because neither of the major parties in Australian politics have had the courage to tackle Pauline Hanson over some of her more outrageous claims.  It matters because not challenging some of Pauline Hanson’s claims and assertions sounds and feels like the major parties agree with them.  It matters because many of those views are racist and are divisive.

Since this essay was published, we’ve had the unedifying spectacle of Senator Hanson wearing a burqua into the Australian Senate as part of her move to ‘ban the burqua’.  While this was broadly condemned, she also had plenty of support across Australia.

The Hanson phenomenon will continue, while ever she can tap into the fears and discomfort felt by many as the world they once felt comfortable in continues to change.  Tapping into anti-Muslim feeling at a time when Muslim extremism is driving many terrorist attacks is guaranteed to get attention for the foreseeable future.

Worth reading, and thinking about.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

She Be Damned by M.J.Tjia

If you like interesting female protagonists, the mystery of murder in 19th century London, then you may like to read Ms Tjia’s novel.

She Be Damned by M.J. Tjia

‘Go back to work in a brothel, for the sake of a little detection?’

This novel is set in London in 1863, where prostitutes in the Waterloo area are turning dead.   When the corpses are found, organs have been removed or mutilated.  Who is killing these women, and why?

Heloise Chancey is a courtesan, nicely set up in a house in Mayfair with her Chinese maid /Amah, Li Leen.  Heloise has done some informal detective work for Sir Thomas Avery’s private detective agency previously, and when Eleanor Carter, a well-bred young woman goes missing in the Waterloo area, Heloise is approached by Sir Thomas and, on behalf of an unnamed client, a Mr Priestly to help. And, when simply asking doesn’t seem to get the answer Mr Priestly requires, an unsubtle threat does.   The police, apparently, are not particularly interested in the cases of four murdered prostitutes.  Sir Thomas and Mr Priestly believe that Heloise Chancey’s contacts may well enable her to locate Eleanor Carter.  And so, Heloise Chancey is essentially blackmailed into trying to find Eleanor.  Clearly a resourceful young woman, she quickly moves into an investigatory mode.  Her mission to try to find Heloise becomes caught up in the police’s wider investigation of the murdered prostitutes.

There are more than a few twists and turns in this story, despite the similarities between this fiction and the crimes perpetrated by Jack the Ripper some twenty-five years later. While I found Heloise Chancey an improbable character, Li Leen was intriguing and Ms Tjia kept my interest throughout.   I understand that this is the first novel in an intended series.

I was jerked out of the story at one stage: a reference to the stench of ‘sewerage’ in a novel set in London and written by an Australian should surely be a reference to ‘sewage’.

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

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

#AWW2017

Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

‘I should, I suppose, go back to the beginning, to the first time we met.’

Professor David Connolly is a university lecturer in history. His wife Caroline has just returned to work in an advertising agency.  They have two children: Holly and Robbie.  All is going well, or so it seems.  But their lives are about to be turned upside down.   Zoë Barry, a first-year student, walks into David’s office one day, and makes a tentative statement:

‘I think you might be my father . . .’

Can David and Caroline integrate Zoë into their family?  David certainly thinks that they should try.  Caroline is less sure, but she’s prepared to try.  But Zoë is complicated and secretive and it isn’t long before she starts causing problems.  David is often inclined to believe Zoë, and takes her side in disputes with Caroline.

The novel switches between Caroline and David, presenting each of their perspectives as they try to accommodate Zoë and work out the best way to deal with her impact on their lives.  But Zoë has her own agenda: there’s clearly much more to Zoë than meets the eye.

The tension builds throughout the novel.  And, even though some of David’s actions seemed incredibly naïve and annoyed me, I kept reading wondering how it would all end.  Perhaps a family holiday in France might provide a solution?  One way or another.

‘Families don’t come apart because a thread has been loosened.’

A fast-paced psychological thriller with more than a couple of twists.  Not all the twists worked for me, but the novel certainly held my attention.  Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based crime writing duo Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. This is their second novel.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

The Lie: Helen Dunmore

I’ve not read books by this author either, and after reading this post, I think I should.

The Idle Woman

★★★★

I haven’t read any books by Helen Dunmore before because, somehow, I’d got it into my head that she only wrote time-slip romantic fiction. Goodness knows why I thought that, but I suppose I’d heard vaguely about The Greatcoat and extrapolated widely to come up with a completely mistaken idea. The Lie has put me right. A poignant, gut-wrenching tale of love, loss, and survivor’s guilt, it tells the story of the young Cornishman Daniel Branwell as he returns home after the horrors of the First World War.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Some interesting books mentioned here.

booksaremyfavouriteandbest

There’s pride, there’s prejudice, and there’s also text break-ups, reality tv, ‘hate sex’, Bitcoin, jogging, and Ivy League schools in Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld’s fabulous, frothy take on the Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice.

The brilliance in Sittenfeld’s rendering of Pride is that she stayed absolutely true to the story (a ridiculous social-climber plots to marry-off her five daughters to suitable, wealthy men), and yet made it very much her own.

All five  girls had then gone on to private colleges before embarking on what could euphemistically be called non-lucrative careers, though in the case of some sisters, non-lucrative non-careers was a more precise descriptor.

The story is set in Cincinnati (Sittenfeld’s hometown) and we find Liz as a magazine journalist; Jane, a yoga instructor; Mary doing her third online masters degree; and Kitty and Lydia gadding about eating high-protein meals and attending CrossFit.

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