Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 28, 2010

New on the TBR

My dentist is conveniently close to one of my favourite indie bookshops, Benn’s Books in Centre Rd Bentleigh… and it always seems only reasonable to reward myself for my stoicism in the chair with a new book or two.


On the way to my appointment on the train I read a Balzac short story A Man of Business on the Kindle, but started browsing the book by Susanna de Vries over a post scale-and-clean cappuccino – and kept reading on my way home.   I bought Mary Poppins She Wrote, (The True Story of Australian Writer P.L.Travers, Creator of the Quintessentially English Nanny) to add to my collection of author biographies, and I bought the new David Mitchell The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet because I have read nearly everything he’s written and loved them all.  But I bought The Complete Book of Heroic Australian Women because Susanna De Vries has written a fascinating book – two parts, one focussing on Australian pioneer women and the other on heroic women in war.  It caught my interest because it includes the story of Sister Vivian Bullwinkle, who was a friend of my mother’s.  Sr Bullwinkle was the sole survivor of the Bangka Island Massacre but was captured by the Japanese shortly afterwards and spent three terrible years in a POW camp; De Vries’ book also includes the stories of her companions, Betty Jeffrey, Sylvia Muir and Joyce Tweddell.  I am looking forward to reading the rest of this inspiring book because I agree with De Vries when she writes:

Today television programs, teenage magazines and PR specialists create ‘heroic’ female figures for young girls to emulate.  These are often plastic Botoxed celebrities from the world of fashion and entertainment, shallow characters preoccupied with money and publicity, who do little for others and appear to lack any moral compass.  The sporting media must also take some blame for having devalued the word ‘hero’ for their own ends.  These days, anyone who wins a race or kicks a ball can be referred to as a hero, a term that should be reserved for real heroes – men and women like these [in De Vries’ book] who save the lives of others. (p316)

Update: Alas, The Complete Book turned out to be a disappointment in more ways than one.  See my review.   But Mary Poppins She Wrote was terrific (see my review) and of course The Thousand Autumns was everything I expected it to be. (See my review).

Author: Susanna de Vries
Title: The Complete Book of Heroic Australian Women (silly name, how could it possibly be ‘complete‘?!)
Publisher: Harper Collins 2010
ISBN: 9780732290061 $AUD 35.00

Author: Valerie Lawson
Title: Mary Poppins She Wrote
Publisher: Hachette 2010
ISBN: 9780733626371 $AUD 24.99

Author: David Mitchell
Title: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Publisher: Sceptre 2010
ISBN: 9780340921579 $AUD 32.99


  1. LOL Lisa. It’s amazing how easy we find it to make an excuse to buy books isn’t it? I am keen to read the Mitchell – I assume it’s in pb? – as I understand it’s set in Japan and deals with the Dejima area in particular?

    PS How are the teeth?


    • Teeth are fine, and yes of course you are right, I didn’t really need solace! Yes, the Mitchell is PB, and if you click on the link at the bottom of the post you can get it for $24.18 from the BD, considerably less than I paid for it. (But I still like bookshops, real ones!) Trevor at the Mookse and the Gripes has a good review, (the first third looks safe to read without spoilers) at


  2. What an interesting selection. That should keep you busy for a while. I’ve read and reviewed the Mitchell books but haven’t heard of the others. I admire your commitment to bookshops – alas, Britain has all but lost its independents so online seems to get most of my custom these days.


  3. No browsing for you Tom? Oh that is sad!


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