Celebrating Australian Women's Writing - My #StellaSpark

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Whether it's from a publisher, bookstore or library, finding a truly great read which really resonates with me is always a highlight. These days I've found that the unexpected gems I happen to pick from the shelf can end up being the most memorable and moving. Over the past year, many of these have been by local talents, and in particular Australian women writers. These authors are forging the way in our literary scene, with stories that capture so acutely a sense of place and how we navigate relationships. So to show my support for the work of the Stella Prize, today I'm sharing some of my 'Stella Sparks' from books I've read in 2017.

One of the books which had the biggest impact on me last year is Anna Spargo-Ryan's poignant second novel.

As I said in my review,
The Gulf is impeccably written, but its real triumph is revealing the courage needed to make a better life, and the sacrifices we make to find it. 

This is a coming-of-age novel that is visceral and at times confronting, ultimately offering a tender portrayal of the inexplicable bond between siblings and the depth of loyalty to those we care about. I haven't come across a book which has made me both laugh and cry in equal measure as much as this one in a long time, and I'm looking forward to going back and reading her first release The Paper House.

Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies by Jackie French: This is a book that offers a glimpse into the women behind the politics of WWI on the home front, and the hidden power they possessed during this tumultuous period in history. I really love how French has written a war narrative which incorporates the impact of events both on the battlefield and behind closed doors, plus there was also a twist here which I did not see coming! I can't wait for the sequel The Lily and the Rose, releasing in March 2018.

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire: A small town and the brutal murder of a young woman sets the frame for this no-nonsense crime thriller that strikes at the heart of the media's reaction to these tragedies, obsessing over 'pretty dead girls'. It was so interesting to read about the journalist's perspective as she seeks answers, along the way sinking deeper into the experiences of a grieving sister and other shady characters who may know more than they let on...
Mysterious? Yes. 'Can't put it down'? You bet.

Where the Light Falls by Gretchen Shirm: Gretchen Shirm's prose is effortlessly beautiful, controlled, and tightly woven in this story of an artist assessing his own life through a new lens. She captures emotions in ways that struck a chord with me, and I cannot wait to see where she grows from here.

These are just a few of the books by Australian women writers I hope to read this year!

Over to you - what's a book by an Australian woman which you have recently read and would recommend? I'd love to hear about your #StellaSpark, and there's also the opportunity to share your favourites with the hashtag on twitter and instagram. You can find more information on this year's Stella Sparks campaign here.


  1. I have heard of the Stella Prize, but not of Stella Sparks and think it is a wonderful idea. I love supporting Australian Women Writers. I don't read as much Adult reads as I do YA, but I want to read more adult reads this year. Miss Lily's lovely Ladies is one I really want to read. Pamela Hart is one of my fav Australian writers. She has written The Soldier's Wife and Warbride and they are both brilliant and would recommend them. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I still need to read some Pamela Hart, so she's definitely an author I'll look into! Thanks for the recommendation :)

  2. The only author I've read on this list is Kate Forsyth! She's one of my all time favourites. I may have read Jackie French in primary school at some point but I can't remember...

    1. That's great to hear Bec, I definitely can't wait to read her latest.


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