Good Reading : March 2007
reader’s life Bestselling British novelist Jim Crace talks about his new book Gill Souter takes a look at the latest craft books Susannah Fullerton tells us about Australia’s literary societies Final instalment of our creepy ghost story Fabulous Mother’s Day gift guide ORDER YOUR COPY NOW! NEXT ISSUE on sale 30 March This month we feature expat British-born Australian SARAH SEEBERG, who lives in Basel, Switzerland because of her husband’s work. I’m now an expat housewife, but fortunately reading and writing are portable skills. An inter national organisation here offers members an English-language library, and, apart from watches and chocolates, some Basel shops sell English books. Australian magazines maintain that essential link with ‘Home’ – every issue of wonderful gr is devoured on arrival. Bookwor m parents (Dad loved Dickens) never restricted what I read. The Brothers Grimm scared and thrilled, while a book on British heroines was undoubtedly influential! My sister adored Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels but the Regent himself admired my favourite, Jane Austen. The whole family was delighted by Lawrence Durrell’s humour and knowl- edge of Greece: Prospero’s Cell (about Corfu), Reflections on a Marine Venus (Rhodes) and Bitter Lemons (Cyprus). I studied literature and wrote about Joseph Conrad for my university Honours thesis. During the eight years I taught at University of the Third Age, I shared my love for both English and other literary classics including the Greek dramatists, Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Employment took me into libraries, to industrial relations and careers advice in federal depart- ments, and eventually to adult education and the National Trust, lecturing on cultural travel, garden history, Egyptology, writers and writing. When expat life frustrates or depresses, sure- fire pick-me-ups include Pride and Prejudice, PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves novels, and The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Ar nim (an earlier Aussie expat). Northern hemisphere gardening requires practical books, plus inspiration from Penelope Hobhouse’s Gardens of Persia or Jean Mus’s Mediterranean Gardens. Women’s lives fasci- nate, from Colette Rossant’s Apricots on the Nile, combining history, place and food, to autobiographies of feminist icons like Hillary Clinton and Jane Fonda. Literary biographies infor m: Shakespeare (Frank Ker mode), Austen (Richard Jenkyns), Wilkie Collins (William Clarke). Literary novels entertain: Cólm Toibín’s The Master, Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire. Travel guides are essential – from Basel it’s only an hour or two to the Côte d’Azur or Budapest or Sicily. I love good crime novels for the examination of social and philosophical questions (Le Car ré, Paretsky, Mankell), setting (Donna Leon, Robert Wilson, Margaret Maron, Andrea Camilleri, Barbara Nadel, Magdalena Nabb, Dana Stabenow, Tony Hillerman, Alexander McCall Smith), historical period (Allingham, Anne Perry, Michael Pearce), feminism (Sue Grafton, Frances Fyfield, Nevada Bar r, Gillian Linscott, Linda Bar nes, Marcia Muller), Anglican characters (Kate Charles, Julia Spencer-Fleming), university back- grounds (Sayers, Amanda Cross), excellent writing (Andrew Taylor, Caroline Graham, Susan Hill), or just for fun (Lilian Jackson Braun). If you would like to be featured in this series, email no more than 400 words about yourself along the lines above plus a photograph of you showing where you live or an aspect of your life to: firstname.lastname@example.org ... and on the balcony of her house in Bettingen, Basel Sarah at Eze on the Côte d’Azur ...