I have just finished what I would call a tome, 719 pages. The letter M in my A-Z Book Challenge. It is a book that I have thoroughly enjoyed as the majority of the novel was set in my old home town, Canberra.
This book is the third in the Edith Trilogy. Strangely I didn’t read the first book I have only read the second, The Dark Palace, and this, Cold Light, the third. I read The Dark Palace in 2008 because it was a winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 2001 and I was working my way through previous Miles Franklin winners.
Cold Light was published in 2011 and I heard a review on the ABC Radio National Bookshow last year. You can download the podcast here. The review had me hooked and I ordered a copy on the internet. I have put off reading the book until now as it was such a ‘large’ book.
I have not been disappointed by delaying my reading. I have lapped up the story as I am familiar with so many of the settings in the novel. It is a book that will resonate with Canberra residents or those who have lived or worked, particularly in the public service, in Canberra at some time in their life.
Edith, the protagonist, is bypassed by the political classes in Canberra because she is a woman, this week in Australian politics has been on the very subject of the treatment of women, particularly in politics. The more things change the more they stay the same!
I found many quotes that I wanted to share with those who know Canberra but here are just a few:
“she knew. . . .he was dissatisfied . . .with the city, capital, outpost – whatever Canberra was. City emergent.” [p. 70]
. . .” ‘It’s an important city doing important things in the national interest.’
She agreed, but said, ‘What I like about it – for all its importance and its scheming – is that it still has a bush soul. Living here, we can all still see the bush from which we come.’ “[p 559]
“Everyone would be in a permanent conversation about the Canberra dream, including those who did not live in Canberra. Canberra was the only city in Australia that was everyone’s business. Already, everyone had an opinion about it. Through argument, everyone would help make it.” [p561]
This is a wonderful book on the life of a woman in the Australian political scene and the building of Canberra as the nation’s capital.
There are some great reviews of the book here.