Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 24, 2011

Meet an Aussie Author: Judith Armstrong

Judith Armstrong is well-known to readers of broadsheet newspapers as a literary critic and former academic, but since her retirement she’s had time to write fiction and is now also a novelist in her own right.  I discovered her debut novel The French Tutor last year and liked it very much, so I’m delighted to learn that she has a new book out, called War & Peace and Sonya.  It’s a reimagining of the angst-ridden relationship between Tolstoy and  his wife Sonya –  and I don’t need to have seen it yet to decide that it’s going to go straight into my TBR pile of ‘Russian’ books to read in preparation for my trip next year.

Thanks to the wonders of the web, Judith commented on my review of The French Tutor and of course I couldn’t resist inviting her to contribute to Meet an Aussie Author.  Here she is, in her own words:

1.   I was born and grew up in Melbourne.

2.   When I was a child I adored writing school compositions.

3.   The person who inspired me to write was Anna Karenina.

4.   I write in my study, at a desk, by a window overlooking    the street. I love everything I see except the graffiti. [I’m with you there, Judith, I don’t like graffiti either!]

5.   I write the minute I have washed the breakfast dishes and walked the dog, then every other free moment.

6.    Research is a delight except when it is a delay.

7.   I keep two copies of each of my (10) published books on my shelf – one to lend and the other to make sure I still  have one. I also keep articles, but not reviews I’ve  written for the press or magazines. They’re on the computer.

8.   On the day my first book was published, the publishers (Text) sent me flowers.

9.   At the moment, I’m not writing anything, having just published a novel (War & Peace and Sonya, Pier 9), and written two stage works performed for the Stork Theatre. But I’m waiting by the phone to hear which opera I’m to write an article about for Opera Australia next year.

10.  When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I think myself deep into the situation that requires it.

10 books!  That sent me scurrying off to find out what they were, and oh dear! it’s not easy to economise after a small but $850 argument between my car and a post, when there are temptations like this.

The Fishpond webiste is down today, but these are the ones I could readily find:

You can buy The Maestro’s Table : Food, Talk and Convivio and The French Tutor from Text (click the links).

Thanks for participating, Judith!

Update: May 17th
Judith is starting up her own blog and I am campaigning for her to specialise in reviews of The Great Russians!


  1. […] Judith Armstrong is a former Melbourne academic who used to teach Russian literature and culture, so it is safe to say that this novel is impeccably researched.  Based on the diaries of Tolstoy and his wife Sofya Andreyevna Behrs, known as Sonya, it tells the other side of the story that formed the basis of The Last Station, the film that showed the sorry state of the Tolstoy marriage and depicted Sonya as a nagging wife harassing the genius about the contents of his Will,  so much so that he felt he had no option but to get away from her. […]


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: