Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 18, 2018

Book signing: What Empty Things Are These (2018), by J L Crozier

Today The Spouse and I ventured into the CBD for a book signing at Mary Martin’s bookshop at Southbank.  Melbourne—as locals know—is no place for the faint-hearted at the moment because there are infrastructure works all over the city and the traffic is unbelievable.  We all complain, of course, but we shouldn’t… because we have just voted back in a government that likes loves to build things and these long-overdue infrastructure projects are bringing our city into the 21st century and secretly we love it all.  (Though maybe not quite so much when the weather is not congenial.)

Evan Walker Pedestrian Bridge, named in honour of the visionary architect who created the Southbank precinct (Wikipedia Commons*)

Prudently therefore, and on a glorious day of benign sunshine, we took the train and—alleluia! there were no pesky track works involving changing trains, so it was stress free and I read a good bit of the book I’d picked up from the library en route.  (Toni Jordan’s Fragments).  From Flinders Street we strolled over the Evan Walker pedestrian bridge on the Yarra, mooched around the posh Southbank shops and then wandered into the Mary Martin bookshop.

The debut author of What Empty Things Are These, J L (Judy) Crozier, is a friend of The Spouse from 40 years ago when he was Mayor of Fitzroy, and while she lives in France these days, she’s currently on a book tour in Australia and today was an opportunity for some nostalgic chat and of course to buy her book and get it signed.

This is the blurb:

In 1860’s Britain there is nothing unusual in a man beating his wife. When George Hadley’s aggression triggers his own stroke and coma, his wife discovers all she thinks of as hers is to pass to her young son Toby. Adelaide seems as powerless as her ladies’ maid, Sobriety.

Beyond the strictures of domestic and social expectation, these two women of different class remake the rules to discover what lies beneath the drapes and tassels of Victorian Britain. Life, they find, is urgent, exciting… but cheap. Even as they adventure into alleyways, a tunnel and a séance, their innocence is gone.

What Empty things Are These is about what happens to women who look into the face of this newly industrialised and still patriarchal age. Change is everywhere, exhilarating, corrupt, terrifying.

Fraud and farce abound. Spiritualists prey on the confused; women are encased in clothing that imply both modesty and sexuality; the powerful prey upon the weak. Adelaide and Sobriety, in their way, show us that every era has secrets that must be uncovered for real social progress.

But the truth of the age is encapsulated for them, in the underlying tale of the vulnerable urchin girl, the nameless victim of this pitiless society.

Exhausted by our travels and the rigorous investigation of the bookshop in case there were more books we needed (and there were*), we then repaired to a very fine Southbank restaurant called Pure South for lunch.   Pure South’s niche is that the produce all comes from Tassie. (Yes, even the gin for the cocktails).  It’s all very scrumptious and I have discovered a very simple dish for using up the occasional bit of asparagus in the garden.  My plating, of course, is never going to be as elegant as theirs, but (always remembering that less is more) I reckon it’s easy enough to steam some young asparagus spears, dot them with 4-5 small knobs of goats cheese, sprinkle the asparagus with crushed walnuts and launch them onto a little lake of leatherwood honey thinned with a splash of a good dry sherry and some truffle oil.

So all in all it was a very pleasant day.

PS Tim says he’s going to read the book first so I’ve said he has to write me a guest review….

*Michelle Obama’s Becoming, and a travel guide for our trip to NZ next year (Auckland Writers Festival, yay!)

Author: J L (Judy) Crozier
Title: What Empty Things Are These
Publisher: Regal House Publishing, USA, 2018, 329 pages
ISBN: 9781947548121
Purchased at Mary Martin Bookshop, Southbank

*Photo credit of the Evan Walker pedestrian bridge: By Donaldytong – Own work, Public Domain,



  1. Nice picture. It must be quite hot at the moment, I wonder how Membourne is in the summer.

    Say hello to The Spouse from me, please.


    • Will do:)
      We had a very hot day last week, and then a deluge of rain, but now it is just pleasantly warm.
      Of course, since it’s Melbourne, that could change in half an hour….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful – thanks for sharing your lovely day! :D

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not a fan of the rewriting of history but I’ll wait and see what Tim says. Very envious of train rides into the city and walking around Southbank.


    • Ah, the pressure’s on him now!


  4. Auckland Writer’s Festival…how fun!! And Tassie food. You can’t go wrong. Of course I’m biased. Though I do wish all of the good stuff wouldn’t be exported so much. The locals do need some of it!


    • Yes, I know what you mean. None of us can afford crayfish now that the market price is set by what the Japanese are willing to pay for it.

      One of my favourite memories of Tassie, is stopping at a pub somewhere along the north coast and buying one of their legendary crays, and eating it out of the paper wrapping on the beach.


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: