In 1916, one million men fought in the first battle of the Somme. Victory hinged on their ability to capture a small village called Pozières, perched on the highest ridge of the battlefield. After five attempts to seize it, the British called in the Anzacs to complete this seemingly impossible task.
At midnight on 23 July 1916, thousands of Australians stormed and took Pozières. Forty-five days later they were relieved, having suffered 23,000 casualties to gain a few miles of barren, lunar landscape.
Despite the toll, the capture of Pozières was heralded as a stunning tactical victory. Yet for the exhausted survivors, the war-weary public, and the families of the dead and maimed, victory came at such terrible cost it seemed indistinguishable from defeat.
Born in the Year of the Snake, May Tang is like flowing water when she should have more fire. A dreamer, she will never be sensible and obedient like her elder sister Jie Jie or clever like her brother Peter, studying in Australia. But her parents are worried by rumoured events in China, and May finds herself on her way to a new life in Sydney. It is so different that May wonders if she will ever be able to love this new country.
No Chopsticks Required:
‘Do they have spaghetti in Shanghai?’ I asked. ‘Do they have olive oil, cereal or nappies?’
In 2008, award-winning journalist Katrina Beikoff accepted a one-year job on the English language newspaper the Shanghai Daily. Katrina, her partner and their young family dived into a bustling Shanghai without a plan or, frankly, a clue as to what to expect. No Chopsticks Required is Katrina’s account of her startling year in contemporary China and her best efforts to forge a life as a foreigner.
In what would prove to be a tumultuous year Katrina witnessed a range of major events: a massive, once-in-a-lifetime snow storm, a devastating earthquake which killed over 80,000 people, the Tibetan uprising, the Beijing Olympics, the melamine-tainted milk scandal, government censorship of the media and the Chinese response to the beginnings of the global financial crisis.
Alongside these international news-making events Katrina describes her attempts to look after her family while overcoming a multitude of quirky and unusual occurrences that made up Shanghai daily life. Katrina’s personal observations of China and its people are as insightful and amusing as they are fascinating.
Katrina Beikoff is a Walkley-award winning journalist, columnist, communications consultant and mother of two. In 2000 she won Australia’s top journalism award for exposing CJ Hunter, America’s world shot-put champion and the husband of disgraced sprint champ Marion Jones, as a drug cheat. She now lives with her family on Queensland’s Gold Coast writing for various publications not owned by the Chinese Communist Party
Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man.
Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an evergrowing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into hundreds of exotic new species, including Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.
In The Birdmans Wife, the naïive young girl who falls in love with a demanding and ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.
In this indelible portrait, an extraordinary woman overshadowed by history steps back into the light where she belongs.
Melissa Ashley is a writer, poet, birder and academic who tutors in poetry and creative writing at the University of Queensland. She has published a collection of poems, Hospital for Dolls, short stories, essays and articles. What started out as research for a PhD dissertation on Elizabeth Gould became a labour of love and her first novel, The Birdman’s Wife. Inspired by her heroine, she studied taxidermy as a volunteer at the Queensland Museum. Melissa lives in Brisbane.
Fifth in line to the throne at the time of her birth in 1819, Victoria was an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary role. Born into a world where women were often powerless, Victoria went on to rule the most powerful country on earth with a decisive hand. As a teenage queen, she eagerly grasped the crown. She loved sex and delighted in power. She was outspoken with her ministers. She gave birth to nine children and survived eight assassination attempts over the course of her lifetime. And as science, technology, and democracy were dramatically reshaping the world, Victoria was a symbol of steadfastness and security—queen of a quarter of the world s population at the height of the British Empire’s reach.
It’s Baird’s gift as a storyteller, her knack for human detail and the idiosyncrasies of the era, that makes this book so superb. Through her eyes, the stolid Victoria we thought we knew comes thrillingly alive. An extraordinary story, told with brilliance and tenderness by one of Australia‘s most perceptive writers. — Annabel Crabb
Julia Baird makes this remarkable, complex woman absolutely come alive. Only an Australian — and one with Julias vivid storytelling abilities — could write this fresh, unafraid and completely compelling biography. — Lisa Wilkinson
Julia Baird is a journalist, broadcaster and author based in Sydney, Australia. She hosts The Drum on ABCTV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the International New York Times. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar. You can follow her at http://www.juliabaird.me/about/