[DWJ] Best of 2017??

Kathleen Jennings kathleen.jennings at gmail.com
Wed Jan 18 02:25:06 EST 2017

Hello, wonderful people!


Every year I have a last-minute Twelfth Night party, at which people read
extracts from favourite books, poems, plays... This year, as well as
Australian history, cosy murders, professional storytelling and cookbooks
we had passages from The Tough Guide and Witch Week (we got onto a bit of a
food digression).

I'm back at university doing a practice-led research masters, looking at
Australian Gothic fiction, although I've managed at least to get DWJ
references into the confirmation documents! But mostly I've been rereading
Joan Lindsay's *Picnic at Hanging Rock *and remembering what a Very Good
Book it is (I noticed this time that Lindsay seemed to be making a
deliberate reworking of *A Little Princess*). The other key texts for my
critical portion are Rosalie Ham's *The Dressmaker* (there's a rather
charming movie of this with Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth) and several of
Shaun Tan's illustrated stories in *Tales from Outer Suburbia*.


The rest of my time I'm illustrating (including for Gili!) so lots of the
books I read are still in manuscript - two to keep an eye out for are *The
River Bank* (Kij Johnson's sequel to *The Wind in the Willows*) and
Christopher Rowe's collection *Telling the Map* (unless the title changes
again!). (And feel free to keep me in mind if you need an artist - I earn
my keep by it now!)

*Other best books*

*Time Was* by W. Grahame Robertson - just, oh, enchanting and heartbreaking
and funny! It's basically stories about his famous friends (Joan
Lindsay's *Time
Without Clocks *does this for Australia between the wars), but his friends
were the Pre-Raphaelites, Oscar Wilde, George Eliot, Ellen Terry, Sarah
Bernhardt... I so dearly want to illustrate this.

*Cold Comfort Farm* - I know, I know! Recommendations for this chased me
around the world on my grand tour this year, until the landlady at a B&B in
Dartmoor put it very firmly next to my plate at breakfast. I hadn't
realised it was science fiction - well, a dash of futurism - and the
edition she gave me was illustrated by Quentin Blake, so now it all takes
place for me in the same world as *The Fantastic Mr Fox*.

*Madensky Square*, and others by Eva Ibbotson - you've all read Eva
Ibbotson's adult novels, haven't you? Utter candy, somewhere between Heidi,
Robin McKinley and (oddly but unmistakably) Connie Willis. *Madensky
Square* was
new to me, and a little graver and more bittersweet (but still sweet), but
then I read *A Countess Below Stairs* (aka *A Secret Countess*) out loud to
my father, who actively enjoyed it, more than many of the books he's asked
me to read.

*The Bone Swans* by CSE Cooney - If you like fairytales, there are a couple
of SUPERB ones in this, particularly "How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain
with the Crooked One" which was everything I wanted from a very robust but
romantic fairytale retelling.

*Harriette Wilson's Memoirs* - Not at all new, but these reminiscences of a
Regency courtesan are so... *sweet*. Imagine a successful and happy Lydia
Bennett who adopts Byron a la distance and writes him gently scolding
letters. Funny and philosophical and scandalous and naive.

Fondest regards always,


Also making art for supporters on http://patreon.com/tanaudel

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