Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 21, 2016

Writing is Easy, by Gert Loveday #BookReview

Writing is Easy Writing as a duo is rather unusual: prior to coming across Gert Loveday’s Writing is Easy the only other example I knew of was M. Barnard Eldershaw, which was the pseudonym of Marjorie Barnard (1897–1987) and Flora Eldershaw (1897–1956), who together wrote five novels (including A House is Built which is on my TBR).  Gert Loveday is the pseudonym of sisters Joan Kerr and Gabrielle Daly and you can read about their writing process in Guy’s interview at His Futile Preoccupations.  (Where you’ll also see that Nicci French is a writing duo too, who knew?)   Anyway, it was Guy’s review of Writing is Easy that made me buy a copy, and it is fair to say that this novel at hand on the kindle has helped keep me smiling over some very trying days recently.

Let’s just say that lately I have had to spend a lot of time waiting to be seen by assorted bureaucrats, and even more time waiting on the phone to speak to other assorted bureaucrats.  Writing is Easy is, as Guy so reliably said, a very funny novel about a writers’ workshop held in a rural retreat.  There are two completely incompatible and mutually hostile ‘mentors’: Lilian Bracegirdle who writes incomprehensible performance ‘poetry’ and Marcus Goddard, a hack writer of slush fiction.  Neither of them could maintain their posturing without their respective amanuenses Marjorie and Lester, both of whom are fed up with being treated like dirt and are thus tempted towards using their inside knowledge as blackmail.  I shall say no more about the plot!

The hopefuls are a motley bunch.  Rex Random writes ‘gritty’ detective novels channelling Raymond Chandler, and John Brow is a fitness nut who wants to sell his bizarre fitness regime to the world.  Desma Brooks is writing, yes, you guessed it, a family history; Marilyn Boots is writing out her fantasies of the happy marriage she doesn’t have; and Helen West is a professional applicant for writing grants who seems not to write anything at all.

The venue for the calamities that will have you chuckling is a country house managed by husband-and-wife duo Andrew, who is more than a bit precious about his menus and his gourmet meals, and Mandy who panders to his creative genius.  The sole voice of normality is Janie, who’s there on work experience and provides a wide-eyed but candid commentary for her mum back at home.

The novel pokes fun at all sorts of things: the pretentiousness of writing; the marketable rubbishy best-seller and the unmarketable literary novel that no one understands (do I detect elements of Beckett’s Worstward Ho in Lilian’s work?); the belief that anyone can be a writer; the indefatigable family historian; and of course the idea that writing can be taught at all.

If you need a bit of cheering up, or you just want a playful satire for the fun of it, Writing is Easy is ideal.

Author: Gert Loveday
Title: Writing is Easy
Publisher: Joan Kerr and Gabrielle Daly, 2013
ASIN: (Kindle Edition) B00FIKWSZW
Source: Personal copy $3.99 at Amazon


See Gert Loveday’s blog.


  1. OK, you’ve convinced me. Purchasing it now.

    All the best for better days ahead.

    • Thanks, Lynne, happy reading!

  2. How utterly delicious this sounds!

    • Oh, you will love it, being an author yourself:)

  3. I’ve had this on my kindle for a couple of years and hope to get to it one day … I’ve seen them commenting on blogs around the traps.

    As for literary collaborations, you’d be surprised at how many there are. In my active Wikipedia days I created a category for literary collaborations and populated it with several such writers. I see it has now been changed to “collective pseudonyms” (

    Another Australian pair from around the Barnard Eldershaw period is Dymphna Cusack and Florence James who wrote Come in spinner.

    Another collaborative work I’ve read is Crown of Columbus by then husband and wife, Louise Erdrich (Native American writer) and Michael Dorris.

    BTW You’ve seemed a little quiet the last few days. Was wondering if it were to do with your father. Good luck.

    • *wry smile* You are an observant friend!
      *smacks forehead* I should have remembered Cusack and James, I’ve read Come In Spinner!

      • Oh, I forget things like that all the time. People ask about books that deal with this, or that have that in them, and I’m sure I’ve read some but can I usually remember? Not on your Nellie.

    • Cusack also collaborated with Miles Franklin to write a spoof on the NSW sesquicentenary, Pioneers on Parade

      • Did she? That sounds interesting. I wonder where it’s accessible…

        • I build my Miles Franklin collection through second hand book shops, but the link below indicates Pioneers on Parade (which I don’t have) is available at 4 or 5 Victorian libraries

          • Thanks for this, I’ve just checked at Zportal and you are right. I won’t order it now because I’ve already got more library books out than I’ve got time to read, but I’ll add it to my wishlist at Goodreads so I don’t forget it.

  4. 1. I knew about Nicci French [insert smug smile here]
    2. What is ‘slush fiction’?
    3. Sounds interesting but is it in itself a literary piece? Doesn’t sound it. What’s the style… Quite commercial?

    • Ha ha, I’ve actually read something by Nicci French but that was back in my pre-Google days when I knew nothing about authors except what was on the book blurb.
      Slush fiction is a term that I may have made up myself. It means books with BIG gold lettering on the cover, that should have stayed in the slush pile.
      The style, hmm, I’m not sure. There are jokes and allusions that only litfic readers will ‘get’ but it is a light-hearted, playful farce. I could see it being made into an ABC comic mini-series, (if they had any money, which *sigh* of course they don’t) but I don’t think it would lure the commercial stations.

  5. French sisters Liliane Korb and Laurence Lefevre write mysteries set in Paris under the name Claude Izner. We’re so glad you read and liked this,Lisa. And for Jenny above, one of our reviewers said “you may never feel the same way about T.S.Eliot again.” So, no, unlikely to be of interest to a commercial film-maker.

    • I’m so glad you wrote it, it was just what I needed at the time:)
      This whole topic of writing duos deserves a Whispering Gums post, doesn’t it? Or has Sue already written one?

      • Don’t forget we have two more, if you’re in the mood for Tennyson, Blake and cake, or the Norse sagas and reality TV.

        • Ha ha, I think I’d better read my Norse sagas first before I try yours!
          But … I could feature you two as my first and only duo in Meet an Aussie Author, if you’d like to?

      • Haha, I was thinking that myself Lisa. I’ve done literary couples – which included collaborators but I think I might do one on just the collaborators. Re some of the names proposed here. I created a LITERARY COLLABORATORS category but someone has changed that and Wikipedia has now split them into two: Collective Pseudonyms for those who use pseudonyms and Writing Duos for them all.

        Some of the names people have suggested here only have individual entries in Wikipedia, rather than a joint page which would then get a category.

        • It all sounds like a lot of work for you if you’re going to sort it out…

          • I don’t think I will. The thing is to have any of these categories applied to pair of writers you have to have a page for that pair. In some cases Wikipedia just has individual pages for each of the pair (because they also write individually) with a link to the writer they’ve collaborated with. You can’t add one of these categories to these individual author pages because that individual author is not the Duo or the Collective pseudonym. I set up the page for M. Barnard Eldershaw which of course can have such a category. I’m not interested enough in all the writers named here to go set up the necessary pages for them, but the shame of it is that Wikipedia has nowhere near captured all the duos because the pages for the collaborative “author” doesn’t exist. (Has any of this made sense?)

            • Yes it does, and yes I know what you mean. Once you start with WP it becomes never-ending IMO.

    • I was about to mention them. And there’s also Boileau-Narcejac.

  6. It sounds like a lot of fun, Lisa. As for literary duos, a couple of others spring to mind (both are husband-and-wife teams):
    – Adolfo Bioy Casares and Slivina Ocampo – they wrote a spoof crime novella called ‘Where There’s Love, There’s Hate’, which I reviewed a year or so ago.
    – Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, authors of the Martin Beck detective novels.

    • I don’t see either of those in Sue’s Collective Pseudonyms Wikipedia page, though there are 89 listed – it’s obviously more common than I thought.

  7. Sounds like a fun read; since I am following and enjoying Gert’s blog I intend to give it a try. As for collective pseudonyms, I can contribute H. Bustos Domecq, Ellery Queen, Lars Kepler, Iny Lorentz, Erckmann-Chatrian and in the field of non-fiction Nicolas Bourbaki.

    • Yikes, I reckon we’ve got six months’ reading ahead of us if we try to track down all these duos! And I thought it was a rarity!!

  8. Lisa, you got me when you said it keeps you smiling:) And of course because it’s about aspiring writers and a writing workshop – have been to plenty of them.

    • I’d lend to you, but I can’t, it’s on the Kindle. Yet another reason why I prefer print books, they can be shared with friends:)

  9. Oh this sounds delightful!

    • A comic novel, when it works, is a tonic for the soul:)

  10. I put it on the virtual TBR after Guy’s review. Clearly, I need to read this one of these days…

    • He writes a tempting review, does Guy!

  11. […] news articles or stories I come across, or other bloggers. Today’s post was inspired by Lisa’s (ANZLitLovers) post on Gert Loveday’s novel, Writing is easy. Gert Loveday is a collective pseudonym for two […]

  12. […] you will know if you read my recent review of Writing is Easy, Gert Loveday is the pen name of Australian sisters Joan Kerr and Gabrielle Daly, […]

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