Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 10, 2020

More new books for your festive season shopping list…

All of a sudden, I am inundated with books for review.

I haven’t had time to do more than browse these, but one or other of them may be just what you are looking for as a present for a loved one.  (Or drop a hint to a loved one that you’d like it for yourself!)

I expect that these are available at the usual bookstores, but I’ve added a link to the publisher if you prefer to buy direct.  So, without further ado:

Pride of Place, Exploring the Grimwade Collection, by Alisa Bunbury

A stunningly packaged hardback exploring the rich visual and textual material in the Grimwade Collection, and providing a unique perspective on Australia’s history.
The Russell and Mab Grimwade Bequest comprises a rich and sometimes unexpected variety of art, books and objects. A scientist, businessman and philanthropist, Sir Russell had wide-ranging interests embracing industry, history and botany. In all of these he was strongly supported by his wife Mab. The core of the bequest is Russell’s collection of visual and textual material, which provides a perspective on the European exploration of the Pacific and the British colonisation and settlement of Australia. His keen interest resulted in an extensive body of prints, drawings, watercolours and books, as well as oil paintings, decorative arts and personal records. These are jointly housed by the University of Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum of Art, Special Collections (Library) and University Archives. Pride of Place is the first publication to explore the diversity of this remarkable collection. In this beautifully illustrated book, numerous experts share their interpretations of its highlights, responding to past historical attitudes and offering twenty-first century insights.

Alisa Bunbury has been Grimwade Collection Curator at the University of Melbourne since 2017. Prior to this she was Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of South Australia for many years. She has researched and curated exhibitions on numerous topics and now specialises in Australian colonial art. She also undertakes independent work and has received fellowships from State Library Victoria and the National Library of Australia.

ISBN: 9780522876383, Miegunyah Press, Available from MUP Bookshop, $59.99, hbk

Beyond the Stage: Creative Australian stories from the Great War, edited by Anna Goldsworthy and Mark Carroll

In the beautifully illustrated Beyond the Stage, essays by leading Australian artists and academics examine the impact of the Great War and its aftermath on creativity and performance in South Australia.

There are historical studies of key individuals, such as Adelaide’s Telsie Hague, and the role of women performers as fundraisers and active agents of wartime patriotism. The contribution of artistic companies, such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera of South Australia and State Theatre Company, is examined. Steve Vizard dissects the preposterously unlikely – and highly entertaining – encounter between Sir Lawrence Olivier and Mo (aka Roy Rene), helping the reader explore Australian national identity after the Great War.

And completing this remarkable book are thought-provoking personal reflections on the nature of memory and commemoration.

Anna Goldsworthy was awarded Newcomer of the Year at the 2010 Australian Book Industry Awards for her debut memoir, Piano Lessons, which was released in Australia and internationally. Other literary publications include the memoir Welcome to Your New Life, the Quarterly Essay Unfinished Business: Sex, freedom and misogyny, and the novel Melting Moments. She edited Best Australian Essays 2017.

Mark Carroll is an Adelaide based musician, educator and academic. Carroll was a member of Young Modern in the late 1970s and for their reformation in the 2000s. He has a regular spot on 5AA radio as ‘The Rock Doctor’ and is co-director of The J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the Elder Conservatorium. His previous publications include The Ballets Russes in Australia and BeyondA Self-Portrait of Percy Grainger and Music and Ideology in Cold War Europe.

ISBN: 9781743056653 Available from Wakefield Press, $49.95, hbk.

The Original Mediterranean Cuisine, Medieval recipes for today, by Barbara Santich

Robust, gutsy flavours, sophisticated and subtly spiced sauces, the tang of fresh herbs: this is the original Mediterranean cuisine.

In Sicily you can still find a puree of broad beans essentially the same as eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans and the same strips of candied zuccata that once would have been offered at a fifteenth-century banquet. The pan-Mediterranean dish of fried fish in a vinegary sauce goes back to the time of Apicius and the Roman Empire.

In The Original Mediterranean Cuisine, you will discover intriguing delights such as ginger and almond sauce, lamb with quinces and Platina’s herb salad. Acclaimed culinary historian Barbara Santich tells the story of authentic medieval Mediterranean food, and brings to the table recipes translated and adapted for modern kitchens from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian and Catalan manuscripts.

‘The Original Mediterranean Cuisine is a fascinating and intelligent book on a riveting subject. It is packed with gems of information and also provides delicious eating.’ – Claudia Roden

‘One of the best books yet to appear for cooks with an interest in early (and often distinctly different) recipes.’ – Medieval Review

‘A gem of a retrospective on food preparation and service during the Middle Ages, The Original Mediterranean Cuisine sparkles with details.’ – Choice (USA)

Barbara Santich is Professor Emeritus in the History Department and a culinary historian who initiated post-graduate courses in food history and culture at the University of Adelaide. As a food writer, Barbara has contributed to numerous Australian newspapers and magazines as well as overseas publications, and is the author of multiple books, including the award-winning Bold Palates: Australia’s gastronomic heritage.

ISBN: 9781743056424, Available from Wakefield Press, $45, hbk.

A Most Surprising Man, The Life of Victor Marra Newland, by Mary Anne Fitzgerald

Victor Marra Newland OBE MC DCM – hunter, soldier and entrepreneur – was descended from Australian pioneers. In 1838 his English grandfather the Rev’d Ridgway Newland landed in the new colony of South Australia. His father Simpson Newland opened up the New South Wales outback with sheep stations on the Darling and Paroo rivers. At the dawn of the 20th century, with Australia’s unknown frontiers already claimed, Marra looked to Africa to make his fortune. In 1904 he started British East Africa’s first safari company in partnership with another Australian, Leslie Tarlton. Along the way he fought in the Boer War and later in the East Africa campaign in World War One.

Marra settled in Nairobi when it was a railway staging post where drunks who staggered home in the dark were liable to be eaten by a lion. There were no rules, no safety nets and tantalising possibilities. Newland, Tarlton and Co. acted as land, stock and auctioneering agents as well as outfitting and guiding visiting sportsmen. British aristocrats, European royalty and American moguls set out on foot and horseback into the wilds in pursuit of big game trophies. The American president Teddy Roosevelt was accompanied by an entourage of 200 porters, gunbearers, camp staff and grooms.

Marra’s tales of shipwrecks, charging rhino, hunting elephant for their ivory and the settlers’ increasingly frustrated attempts to stake land claims make for fascinating and well-paced tales. This book vividly sketches a portrait of a country in the making and the man who embraced and was transformed by his adopted land.

Mary Anne Fitzgerald has covered eastern and West Africa for the Financial TimesInternational Herald Tribune, the Economist, and the Sunday Times of London. She is the author of 11 books on Africa, including the bestselling Nomad: One woman’s journey into the heart of Africa. Most recently she was the lead writer for Ethiopia: The living churches of an ancient kingdom. As a co-founder of SAIDIA, a sustainable development organisation serving 50,000 in northern Kenya, she teaches women to become politicians and renovates schools. While heading the Africa office of a Washington-based human rights organisation she brought the existence of slaves in Libya and child soldiers in Ethiopia to the attention of the US Senate and the UN. Her advocacy has changed policy toward famine alleviation in Ethiopia and the resettlement in the US of South Sudan’s ‘Lost Boys’ and unaccompanied children. She lives with her family in Nairobi.

ISBN: 9781743057544, available from Wakefield Press $45, jacketed hardback.

The Duchess and the Captain’s Wife, Herzogin Cecilie and her circle by Ulla-Lena Lundberg, Pamela Eriksson (Photographer)

Certain ships, like certain people, grow larger than life over time. In maritime history the Herzogin Cecilie sails on, her splendour undiminished. The circumstances of her shipwreck still evoke heated feelings eight decades after her drawn-out tragedy.

Surrounding the Duchess, as the ship is affectionately known, bustle a cast of finely drawn, large characters as if written for the opera: voices that carry over the roar of the ocean, costumes cut for dramatic effect, backdrops created from thousands of metres of sail, tall ships racing from the ports of southern Australia, Cape Horn and the Devon coast.

An exciting find of photographs lies behind this book. Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s text is a breathtaking true story about the young sea captain Sven Eriksson and his wife Pamela Bourne. Pamela’s unique photographs depict everyday life on the ship on the oceans. The crew, the officers, the sea form a triangle drama which captivates the reader far beyond the horizon of the past.

ISBN: 9781743057582, available from Wakefield Press, $39.95, hbk

Happy shopping!


  1. Well, I’ll can see I’ll have to buy the book about the Herzogin Lisa. My father sailed on that ship to UK as a young man and as a consequence he built quite a library about windjammers and sailing – most of which I still have!!! It’s a slice of life that has long disappeared.


    • That’s great! You know, I really did hesitate before doing this post… I myself never read blogs about forthcoming books because they only regurgitate the blurbs that publishers have sent anyway, and, I’m only interested in reviews that tell me whether the book is any good.
      But when the first one arrived (Pride of Place) and The Spouse commandeered it straight away, I thought that given the time of year people might be interested to hear about these new ones — and now I’m glad I did the post!


  2. I’ve been fairly inundated as well. It’s nice, especially with some holidays coming up.


    • It’s nice until they won’t fit on the shelf.
      And also when they take some account of my reading tastes. One arrived this week about a football team…


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