Book Review: Enjoy some distinctly Australian yarns in the 2020 Furphy Anthology

Established back in 1992 to support Shepparton writers, The Furphy Literary Award decided to expand its reach in 2020, opening its doors to unpublished short stories from writers across Australia.

Inspired by Joseph Furphy, author of Australian classic Such Is Life, and the yarns told around his brother’s foundry, writers are encouraged to offer up a little slice of Aussie life. With a hefty prize of $15,000 for the overall winner, plus publication in the Furphy Anthology, it’s no wonder that the award attracts both established and emerging writers alike.

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Book Review: Patricia Engel’s Infinite Country is a timely read that justifies the hype

Talia is on the run. The mastermind behind a plan to escape from a home for juvenile delinquents, her end goal is simple. Reunite with her father and make it to Bogotá Airport in time for her flight to the US. And waiting for her on the other side? Her estranged mother and siblings, and the promise of a whole new life together.

Weaving the history of her parents, Mauro and Elena, with Talia’s road trip home, Infinite Country is the story of a family divided by borders and birth right. It’s a timely read, navigating as it does the repeal of DACA in the US, the agony caused by border separations, and the grim reality of the so-called American Dream.

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Book Review: Belinda Lyons-Lee’s Tussaud is a delightfully devious gothic mystery

It should have been Marie Tussaud’s greatest success. An automaton, rendered lifelike through her waxworking skills. It would stand, walk, elegantly wave a fan. Even sweeter that it should be Marie Antoinette; the French Revolution had cost both queen and artist plenty.

But when her business partner, a magician named Philidor, ignores her instructions, the show falls apart. Marie Antoinette is ruined, and Phantasmagoria is cancelled even before the curtain falls on opening night.

And yet, a man in the audience sees something special in the show. A proposition is placed before Tussaud and Philidor. An eccentric duke, living in isolation at the sprawling Welbeck Abbey, has a commission for them. An automaton of his own, built to his exact specifications. In return, a small fortune, and the opportunity to craft a new show, hosted in the underground ballroom of Welbeck itself.

Once settled at the estate, however, things begin to take a dark turn. Tensions with Philidor are high. And bound by the Duke of Portland’s strange rules, and his unnervingly precise list of requests for his automaton, Marie can’t quite shake the feeling that something is dreadfully wrong at Welbeck Abbey.

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