Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 15, 2020

Sugar Heaven, by Jean Devanny

Last week there was a substantial donation from an Australian mining magnate to the bushfire relief effort.  While all donations are much needed, reactions varied, from approval of the philanthropic gesture, to outrage that our economic system enables an individual to be in a position to give away $70 million.   I myself was stunned, that in my lifetime, the society I live in has shifted so far away from the egalitarian Australia of my youth that such extremes of wealth exist here.  And I wondered what kind of person had all that money to spare but in the period before the fires didn’t think of donating that $70 million to redress poverty and disadvantage in our society.

Update 20/1/10 And then there’s this news from the Oxfam report about inequality in Australia and how our billionaires are getting even richer.

Jean Devanny c 1949 (Wikipedia*)

My dismay about how this donation dramatically symbolises how unfair our society has become, coincides with my reading of Sugar Heaven (1936) by Jean Devanny, (1894-1962) described by Editor Nicole Moore in the Introduction as:

…a revolutionary Communist, novelist, feminist, prodigious platform agitator, birth control activist and eugenicist, travel writer, mother, party worker and theorist of the family and ‘the sex life’.  (p.8)

Devanny’s words in chapter 28 are prophetic of today’s mindset, though I doubt that she intended it that way:

The Inspector swelled with indignation.  ‘Don’t come here with your lies.  You take my advice and forget all about this Communism rubbish.  Where do you think it will get you, anyhow? When you’re old men with beards the people will point you out in the street and say, ‘Yes, he was a great old fighter but look at him now.  No use to us.’ You take my advice and try individualism.  Get what you can out of life without bothering about the other fellow.’  (p.212)

According to Jean-François Vernay, in The Great Australian Novel—a Panorama, Devanny’s 11th novel Sugar Heaven belongs in the company of other Australian socialist realist novels:

Imported from the Soviet Union where it originated under the pen of Andreï Zhdanov, socialist realism, fashionable in Australian in the 1940s and 1950s, can be defined as a form of neutral expression — that tries to describe ordinary people.  As an aesthetic theory that has art as a form of social conscience, socialist realism transcends the writer’s individualism, speaks of the people and reproduces historical reality. The Battlers (1941, see my review), Kylie Tennant’s third novel, has documentary value and is perhaps one of the most moving in its description of rejects from the Great War.  This was a period for the proletarian novel with titles such as Upsurge (1943) by John Harcourt, Seven Poor Men of Sydney (1934, see my review) by Christina Stead, Sugar Heaven (1936) by Jean Devanny, Intimate Strangers (1937, on my TBR) by Katherine Susannah Prichard, The Little Company (1945, see my review) by Eleanor Dark, How Beautiful Are Thy Feet (1949) by Alan Marshall, and Power without Glory (1950) by Frank Hardy.

Jean-François Vernay, The Great Australian Novel—a Panorama (2010), Brolga Publishing, ISBN 9781921596391, p 63)

Cover of the 2002 scholarly edition, see * below re copyright over the first edition cover

Devanny’s novel of Queensland sugar cane country is quintessentially Australian, but she was from New Zealand.  Born Jane Crook in Collingwood in the Nelson Region (South Island), she came from a working class rural family with strong politics, an alcoholic father and a penchant for intensity and artistic expression.  She migrated to Australia in 1929 when she was in her middle thirties, and ended up in Townsville in Queensland where she died aged 68.  Despite some efforts to revive her place in literary history—not the least of which is the 2002 scholarly edition that I’ve just read—Devanny remains little-known today and interested readers will have to do what I did and seek out second-hand copies of her work.

I first heard of Devanny from Jean-François Vernay’s  A Brief Take on the Australian Novel (see here) but I’d forgotten all about that by the time I came across an allusion to her in Kristina Olsson’s Shell where she features as one of a number of forgotten women writers (see here).  I don’t think that Devanny is mentioned in Geordie Williamson’s The Burning Library (see here) but (annoyingly) his plea for the rescue of Australia’s forgotten literary achievement isn’t indexed so I can’t be sure.  Somewhat acerbically, academic Carole Ferrier remarks in her essay in this scholarly edition that predictably, Devanny isn’t mentioned in the Oxford History of Australian Literature (which I don’t have) and I didn’t find her in Geoffrey Dutton’s The Literature of Australia either, but there is a brief profile and Chapter 4 of Sugar Heaven excerpted in the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2009 edition).

Devanny herself claimed that Sugar Heaven is the first really proletarian novel in Australia so (as Nicole Moore says in the Introduction) it has historical value.  But does it stand up as a novel that 21st century readers might want to read in its own right?  Well, I found it hard work.  Plodding on with it felt like reading those books you ‘had to read’ for study purposes.  There are elements of it that are interesting, but a lot of it was dull. To balance my opinion, it’s worth sharing what Moore has to say:

Sugar Heaven’s vision of the working lives of rural Australians is a counter to many white nationalist myths about Australia’s past.  Its real success is to realise a utopian, international genre through a regional industrial conflict, at the same time as challenging white Australian certainties about women, race relations, sexuality, community and domestic life. It is a communist book in love with North Queensland, with a strongly internationalist vision for enriching workers’ lives.  It is perhaps ironic, then, to republish Sugar Heaven for its historical interest, as an act towards sustaining a diverse national culture.

The novel’s interest in the emotional details of working class life appeals most to me. Without this, its formal achievements and regional setting wouldn’t make it into a novel; wouldn’t let us into other lives. (p.8)

Alas, I found the emotional details almost as wearying as the way events and dialogue are structured to ‘educate’ the reader about the political agenda.  Sugar Heaven tells the story of the 1936 cane cutters strike through the prism of Dulcie’s political awakening, which, a-hem, does not merely coincide with her sexual awakening, but is actually the catalyst for it.  Dulcie is an ignorant young woman who married to escape the drudgery of menial work, and regrets it when Hefty Lee takes her up to Queensland’s sugar cane country to live in a shabby shack while he does seasonal work.  She is conservative in the way that many ignorant people are, and she dislikes the camaraderie of the town and fights with him over his support for the strike.

But lo! Dulcie eventually has her political awakening, gets into bed with Hefty with more enthusiasm, and along with Hefty’s ex-wife Eileen (who’d run off with Hefty’s brother Bill Lee), she comes to see a role for women that is meaningful and significant.  Amazingly, considering how ignorant she is, she realises that the strike fails because of poor organisation and is recognised by the male leadeship as having an important role to play, not only in educating women but also in strategic management of future strikes.

Readers interested in industrial history may enjoy the portrayal of this strike, though for my money you can find information about that more succinctly at Solidarity or the Queensland Historical Atlas.  OTOH Devanny’s fictionalised account has authenticity because she was there on the ground during the strike.  The issue at stake was the burning of the cane to protect the cane cutters from Weil’s disease which is spread by rats. From what is portrayed in the book, the strike seems to have been sabotaged by competing interests: the farmers who obviously want their cane cut before it rots; the AWU (the Australian Workers Union) who want arbitration not wildcat strikes; the Labor Party in government who want a functioning economy as the country recovers from the Depression; colonial owners and investors i.e. CSR (the Colonial Sugar Company) who care only about profit; the mill hands who can’t work if the cane isn’t cut; the ‘volunteers’ i.e. scabs who just want work rather than being on the Susso; and the women, who want food on the table for their families.

Jean Devanny (1935) with sugar cane workers (Source: Red the Book)

The strike fails when unity between the mill hands and the cane cutters fails and the engine drivers go back to work too.  This makes the strike untenable but there are consequences beyond that. There is victimisation of the leadership and the remnant militants are urged to get their jobs back if they can rather than let them go to scabs —because it’s important to build their organisation for the future.  The cutters are told that although they have lost the strike, they’ve won because of what they’ve learned (e.g. about how picket lines need to be managed in future) and because so many people have changed their way of thinking.  This positive talk about the failed strike is a lot like what we would recognise as ‘spin’.  The book concludes with Dulcie saying that working men and women are the ‘people of the world’.  They don’t get written about except as adjuncts, but they are actually of ‘most account’.  The essay by Devanny that follows the novel develops this idea of ‘worker’s literature’ further.

Side issues that also have historical interest include the love affair between Eileen the ex-wife and an Italian called Tony.  This is depicted through the prism of the workers’ progressive stance towards ethnic minorities.  The AWU (like the rest of Australia) wanted a British Preferred workforce, but the cutters are in solidarity with other workers wherever they come from because of the internationalist stance of communism as a worldwide movement.  OTOH Eileen’s passion for her lover is at odds with the puritanism of Stalin’s desire for communism to be seen as respectable.  Eileen is at risk of having her application to join the party rejected because the Reds want to assert the noble ideal of loyal Soviet womanhood.  The local apparatchiks need the support of women in the town and Eileen’s scandalous behaviour invites their disapproval.

Discussing erotic aspects of the novel, this edition includes an essay by Amanda Lohrey, who is badged in the Introduction as a contemporary reader of the novel…

… whose own novels The Reading Group and The Morality of Gentlemen are significant examples of Australian fiction about working life and industrial conflict, themselves imbued with theoretical questions about how to write about politics.  Writing for this edition, Lohrey talks about her first encounter with Sugar Heaven as a ‘revelation’ in its vitality and generosity of spirit.  Specifically she focusses on what she terms ‘its singular erotic charge’, as a novel about sexuality and relationships.  (p.11)

Actually, I found the novel rather coy, but think this just means I’ve got used to more explicit sexuality in literature.  Whereas I usually *yawn* skip sex scenes, I found myself rereading the ones in Sugar Heaven to try to work out whether they did or they didn’t, and I assume this coyness was intended to avoid the censor’s attention.  Devanny, as a banned writer both in New Zealand and in Australia, gets a fair bit of page space in Nicole Moore’s The Censor’s Library (see my review).  In the chapter titled ‘Sedition’s Fiction’ (and elsewhere) the banning is ostensibly for being sexually explicit but was really also because of its politics.  The Censor’s Library doesn’t mention Sugar Heaven so perhaps The Butcher’s Shop and Devanny’s other titles were racier. (I say this because The Censor’s Library was published in 2012, a decade after Moore edited Sugar Heaven, so I think we can assume that she had read Sugar Heaven but chose not to discuss it explicitly in The Censor’s Library).

It is not until page 216 that there is any explanation of why the AWU is hostile to the strike.  A farmer’s wife explains it to Dulcie and Eileen: it’s because the AWU, the government and the arbitration courts work together and aim to control extreme elements (i.e. the Communists) in order to retain the support of moderate producers and businessmen.  This unnamed woman also tells Dulcie that the AWU and the government have used the farmers to fight out a domestic quarrel for them.  However, this interpretation of events is not there for ‘balance’.  It’s included so that Dulcie and Eileen both recognise that this woman walked all over them because they had no arguments to counter what she says.  That is not, thinks Dulcie, because there are no arguments.  It’s because she needs to educate herself about the cause.  And not from husband Hefty, who is ‘only a militant’ i.e. concerned with the immediate issue, but from others who can educate her about the world movement.  Eileen has an epiphany too: she exhorts Dulcie to have love ‘for the class’ and not to let love for an individual man get in the way of that.

Even readers with a good vocabulary will need a dictionary to deal with words that suggest over-enthusiastic use of a thesaurus:

  • The most militant among them hopped about and exchanged perfervid argument with the opposition forces. (p.104)
  • Her skin prickled with a recrudescence of her hostile attitude… (p.107)
  • She tried but could not succeed in analysing her own moral obliquity. (p.122)
  • The rashness of her action was lost in the pearl-encinctured mists of her infatuation. (p.127)
  • The sergeant was hortatory. (p.151)

Devanny herself was poorly educated and presumably she was writing for a working class audience that most likely left school at 14, so it’s a bit puzzling that she seems to have gone out of her way to use this type of vocabulary.  And sometimes it misfires: there are some awkward Kath-and-Kim moments —such as Dulcie exclaiming that she didn’t that have the filmiest [flimsiest] notion but wants to try.  The editors explain that they have chosen to retain idiosyncratic spelling such as dont, cant, &c without their apostrophes for reasons of authenticity, and this is a scholarly edition, so ‘filmiest’ is unlikely to be a typo.

For those interested there is biography called Jean Devanny: Romantic Revolutionary (Melbourne UP) by Carole Ferrier, who also contributes an essay in this edition.

To see a piece of Jean Devanny’s journalism, click here for an article about Torres Strait Islanders working in the pearling industry, in The Tribune.

*Re the absence of an image of the first edition: for some reason, the Queensland Historical Atlas in 2013 appears to have claimed copyright on the cover of Sugar Heaven so if you want to see it, you have to visit here — where you can see that they have not paid due respect to the publisher by providing any details about which edition it is.  Why anyone would want to bury it there and prevent its reuse by those who have an interest in the work of Jean Devanny I can’t imagine, and on what basis they claim copyright to this cover I do not know.  The book gets a mention on their Cane fields and solidarity in the multiethnic north page where like all the other images it is plastered with their watermark.  (As a side issue, I took a quick look at their theme of how conflict impacts on the land, and it won’t surprise you to learn that massacres of Indigenous people doesn’t get a mention).   *sigh* Queensland, it sure is different…

Image credit:

  • Jean Devanny portrait: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/208108836 – Tribune (Sydney), National Library of Australia via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Devanny
  • Jean Devanny with sugar cane workers, from Red, the Book, 1940 — the Ds, the caption there reads: Jean Devanny with cane workers, Mourilyan, 1935, when two thousand cane cutters across north Queensland (most of them from Italy and Yugoslavia) and mill hands (mostly Anglo/Celtic) united to strike for two months. Their claim was that, to prevent further outbreaks of Weil’s disease, the cane should be burnt before it was cut. This book, Red by Stephen Moline, looks fascinating, and Bayside Library has a copy, alas in deep storage till mid 2020 because they are renovating the library, but as soon as it’s available, I’ll be checking it out.

Author: Jean Devanney (1894-1962)
Title: Sugar Heaven, a new scholarly edition
Edited by Nicole Moore, with contributions from Carole Ferrier and Amanda Lohrey
Publisher: The Vulgar Press, 2002
ISBN: 9780958079402, pbk,. 283 pages
Source: Personal library, autographed by Carole Ferrier


Responses

  1. Thank you for the work you put into this and especially the theoretical aspects – the place of socialist realism in the literature of this period and so on. The “old” unions always side with the bosses and hate revolutionaries almost as much as the bosses do when their cosy jobs are threatened. The prime example is the Communists opposition to the Paris uprisings of ’68.

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    • You’re welcome, Bill:)
      I’ve set up ‘socialist realism’ as a category in the drop-down menu, but I am still not quite clear enough about what makes a novel fit the category. It’s not, apparently, just characterising workers’ lives, but also follows a structure which ‘educates’ the reader. I think KSP’s Working Bullocks might fit (though I haven’t read it yet), but not Haxby’s Circus? Maybe some of Ruth Park’s novels?
      I am not going to invest any time in researching this because I’ve got other books to read, but if you know of a source that lists Australian socialist realist novels, please let me know.

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      • I’ll see what I can do. Socialist Realism is the literature of old style communism, so: Devanny, Prichard, Hardy (but not Waten I don’t think)

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        • Thanks, Bill.

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          • My understanding is (thanks to the reading I’ve done this past couple of weeks) is that Socialist Realism idealises the worker. So if an old Soviet workers paradise print comes to mind as you read, then you’re in SR territory :-)
            More pragmatic or realistic versions of the workers lot is social realism.

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  2. […] Last week there was a substantial donation from an Australian mining magnate to the bushfire relief effort. While all donations are much needed, reactions varied, from approval of the philanthropic gesture, to outrage that our economic system enables an individual to be in a position to give away $70 million. Read on … […]

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  3. Much appreciated Lisa. I was very interested in J.D. both her life and her work when first encountered at Uni a long time ago. She was way ahead of her time in a number of ways. That she packed in so much in one life is astounding. Along with some awful personal tragedies,impeded by lack of money and other challenges she still remains one of my heroines. It seems the socialist realism debate created quite a bit of ‘fall out’ among the writers of that era. And she should be included in Australia’s literary history. I am glad I discovered her and particularly liked her autobiography Point of Departure.

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    • You’re welcome, Fay.
      I think that we were lucky that McCarthyism didn’t have the same impact here as in America, but there are still examples of its impact on Australian cultural life and the history of this book’s publication is one of them. I interpret her inclusion in the PEN Macquarie Anthology as a sign of more open-mindedness to alternative opinions than in the other reference books I’ve mentioned. They were of their time.

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  4. Fascinating, and thank you. I have a copy of the second edition of The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (1994) (a 1999 reprint) and she is mentioned there. (pages 230-231).

    Various members of my family were members of the Communist Party during the 1940s and later, including (my great uncle) Max Bound (1924-2012).

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    • The Oxford Companion is the one edited by Wilde, Hooten and Andrews, but the Oxford History (the one that is referenced in the Intro) is by Adrian Mitchell and Leonie Kramer. It dates from 1981. I’d like to get my hands on that in due course.
      I think that lots of people supported the idea of communism until Stalin was denounced. And even more valued socialism of one sort or another as a break on unrestrained capitalism, which is what we’ve got now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An interesting piece of social realism and Australian history I always felt Steinbeck did a lot for social realism and then you had the kitchen sink works of northern Britain in the 60s books like Kes , Billy liar and a taste of honey for example

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  6. I’ve always been nervous about using “social realism” because of its very specific origins, but I’ve decided that we non-academic types can use it more loosely than those writing theses to mean literature which realistically portrays lives from a socioeconomic pov?

    I haven’t read your review thoroughly as I’m about to go out, but, without getting into the whole egalitarian society issue, I must say that [LH: name deleted] the donor – whom I think you’re talking about – is one of Australia’s biggest (if not THE) biggest philanthropists and has been for a long time. He’s been in the news before for making big multi-millions of dollars donations to social, environmental and medical projects – and has been doing so for a couple of decades now I think. Quite different from that other WA mining magnate! But, maybe Bill knows more than I do?

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    • Not a fan of [the donor], but if I’m going to defame him then I’d better do it on my own blog.
      [LH: comment edited to remove the donor’s name and ensuing comment].

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      • Yes, I understand that he has a foundation, and wonder how truly effective it is. It’s really hard to get “objective” understanding of this.

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    • Sue, Lisa correctly uses Socialist Realism to describe Devanny’s work. Social Realism is different, in theory anyway, and largely as you describe it. I’m sure you would agree that terms used loosely lose their usefulness.

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      • Oh, I wasn’t disagreeing with her use of it, Bill. I’m really sorry if it sounded like that. I agree to some degree that terms used loosely lose their usefulness, but sometimes more general sounding terms, like social realism, are used so narrowly that we are left with no terms to use for something that would also make sense under that umbrella. If that makes sense. I guess what I’m saying is that I think that this formal social realism that came out of the socialist/communist ideology should be Social Realism, leaving us social realism for more general application. Does that explain what I meant better?

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        • I was trying to avoid this debate, at least partly not wanting to make mistakes. But the literary philosophy which came out of Russian Communism was Socialist Realism which glorifies the worker.

          Social realism developed gradually from the last part of the C19th to describe work and workers and to critique the underlying economic conditions. KSP sometimes seems to me to fall between the two.

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          • Google to the rescue!
            Q: “What is the difference between socialist realism and social realism”?
            Answer: Socialist realism is a style of idealized realistic art that was developed in the Soviet Union and was the official style in that country between 1932 and 1988, as well as in other socialist countries after World War II. Socialist realism is characterized by the glorified depiction of communist values, such as the emancipation of the proletariat. Despite its name, the figures in the style are very often highly idealized, especially in sculpture, where it often leans heavily on the conventions of classical sculpture. Although related, it should not be confused with social realism, a type of art that realistically depicts subjects of social concern, or other forms of “realism” in the visual arts.
            See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_realism

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ah yes, thanks Bill — I did miss SocialIST Realism versus Social Realism (of say Dickens) versus social realism!

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            • It would be disingenuous of me to say I don’t want to be a pedant when I quite clearly am. But. To generalize, Realism was C19th and Social Realism was early to mid C20th. Zola, I think, was the archetypal Realist.

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              • Bill, what do you think about Steinbeck, as suggested by Stu (above)?

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                • What I thought was that Stu like Sue had conflated Socialist Realism and Social Realism (and I’m sorry Stu if I was wrong). Steinbeck and Sinclair, and I’ve read them, were mainstream social realists as he says. But I’m inclined to go with you, that Devanny, whom I haven’t read, was attempting Socialist Realism.

                  You and I have both read a fair bit of Christina Stead and I think it would be fair to say that she understands Socialist Realism but is more comfortable writing social realism. And I think that applies to a lot of Western communists. Of course all the above is IMO, there’s never an expert around when you need one.

                  Liked by 1 person

              • Now you ARE confusing me. I thought that was the case but then you seemed to separate SocialIST Realism from Social Realism, and I decided that my memory was failing me. I can be pedantic too but when it comes to this I prefer to use lower case social realism for them both, and for more, because these are such general words that if quarantined so tightly leave us with nothing to use for wider literature. So, for me, I think in terms of upper case for the movements, lower case for what I said in my earlier comment. But it always makes me nervous that pedants will complain… Haha!

                Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, Bill and Sue, I’m editing your comments to remove the name because I was very careful not to name the donor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fair enough, I don’t mind, but why?

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        • Because there’s been virulent commentary on Twitter and elsewhere about this donation, and if there are Google searches using the donor’s name to find any defamatory comments, I don’t want any trouble here!

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          • Ah, I see and understand completely. I was surprised because you usually aren’t coy! I very rarely read Twitter besides the notifications I receive and their threads, and those are pretty much all literature related. I’m not interested in virulent commentary. I like rational debate and criticism not insults and namecalling which it sounds like this must have been.

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            • I have a very carefully curated literature-related Twitter stream, and for me, it works for a few bloggers and books that I otherwise wouldn’t hear about. But for the bushfires, it was invaluable. In amongst the dross there was info available about specific places I cared about, and also info e.g. about Mallacoota long before the ABC or the Guardian (my main online day-to-day news sources) had anything about it.
              Most of the time, of course it is useless, because what is “trending” in Australia is always sport or reality TV!

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              • Ah, makes sense. I just don’t have the energy for weeding through Twitter and I hate invective. (This is where we are different I think. I can read something beautifully written about a difficult subject, like Clanchy’s book, but my tolerance for invective and irrational verbal abuse, rather than good argument is very low.) I used the news, mostly ABC, and some Guardian, like you, emailed/messaged friends, and occasionally Googled though the latter usually wasn’t up-to-date! Not perfect but it did a good enough job for me.

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                • Fair enough. But just so you know, you don’t need to weed out anything. Your feed is only what you’ve chosen it to be i.e. who you follow. You only see the other stuff if you self-select what’s trending, i.e. you have to click on the hashtag in the RH menu to see it.

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                • Sorry Lisa…thanks, but that was a typo. I meant wading through! But I do find Twitter irritating. If I click on someone I’m following to see what they’ve been doing because I’ve not checked in for a while, I find the display of tweets unhelpful in that you get a tweet or two and then Who to follow suggestions, and then more tweets/retweets. If I’ve specifically clicked on that person I don’t want, one or two tweets in, to be interrupted by other suggestions. Grr…

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                • All true. But there are a few bloggers who don’t have a ‘follow me’ function on their blogs, and I find out what’s new from them by Twitter:)

                  Liked by 1 person

                • That’s frustrating isn’t it? Many times I’ve emailed bloggers and asked them to add that function. They mostly do. I’m not prepared to chase them otherwise, not to be punitive but just to manage my own time! Much as I might like them, it’s not as though I’m desperate for stuff to read! But our lives are very different and we all just do what we can don’t we? There’s one blogger, not specifically a litblogger, I greatly enjoy who hasn’t got this function and I’m afraid I read her very sporadically.

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                • I have the same problem with The Modern Novel. It’s a great blog, but you can’t subscribe and he doesn’t tweet either. If it weren’t for other tweeters mentioning his posts, I’d miss them altogether.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • You are more diligent than I am, Lisa. I’m sure (I know) I miss some great content …

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                • Ha! More obsessed, I think…

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  7. Interesting. Reminds me of a novel I read in my youth, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, about immigrant workers being exploited and maimed in the Chicago meat factories. We see on tv here in the UK pictures of the terrible bush fires. Hope they stop soon.

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  8. Should have read earlier comments before mine: I see you mention the Jungle!

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    • Not to worry Simon, all comments are welcome!
      Reading The Jungle was such a shock to me when I first came across it. Sadly, it probably wouldn’t shock anybody now…

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  9. I’m back from being out! Interesting review Lisa. I’ve wanted to read Devanny for a long time but have never actually had a copy of any of her books. I wonder whether I would enjoy this or not. It sounds like one you really have to read with a clear sense of the time it was written.

    That’s an amazing vocabulary. I notice in Trove that the vocabulary is generally more erudite than we see today but those words are beyond even that!

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    • I hesitate to recommend it. As a window on life in that place at that time, it’s very good, but the way everything is structured to convey her views about communism does wear thin.
      And yes, the ambitious vocab. It me feel sorry for her: she would have been like so many women denied an education, a cruel fate for any intelligent person.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks… I think I won’t rush to look for it, but if it comes my way I might give it a go.

        Liked by 1 person


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