Thinking of Sydney? I’m off there soon and it got me wondering how my my view of that city has been shaped by its literature. So here are 10 books selected from my own reading that will get you in the mood for a visit!
- The Fatal Shore / Robert Hughes – where it all started, his famous history of Australia’s convict origins
- The timeless land triology (The timeless land, Storm of time, No barrier) / Elanor Dark – ages since I’ve read this, a novelisation of the colonial period
- The secret river / Kate Grenville – read this story of the settlement of the Hawkesbury, then take a river cruise and you’ll see it with different eyes.
- Seven little Australians / Ethel Turner – robust and surprisingly modern children’s classic tearjerker set in 1890s Sydney
- Playing Beatie Bow / Ruth Park – children’s time travel adventure about love and family and growing up. Read this before you visit The Rocks as most of the places in the book are still there…
- Ride on stranger / Kylie Tennant – an early 20th century journey through a Sydney of con men and communists, radio and religion and the road to independence. Sharp and funny.
- The harp in the south / Ruth Park – more early 20th century Sydney, this time in the back streets and slums (but not as depressing as that makes it sound)
- The women in black / Madeleine St John – Sydney in the 1950’s seen through the eyes of a bookish teenager who takes a summer job at a grand department store.
I came to 5 of these from film or TV tie-ins – Seven little Australians, The timeless land trilogy and Playing Beattie Bow – with a very young Peter Phelps as Judah. All my editions of these ones are tie-in editions with stills on the covers – adaptations do lead you back to the source material!