Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is the Australian writer Joy Rhodes.
Joy, a lawyer, was born in a small town in rural Queensland, Australia, but has worked all around the world, including Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. She now lives in London with her husband and their two young children.
Her debut novel, The Woolgrower’s Companion, was published in Australia earlier this year and will be published in the UK later this week. Set on a sheep station in the Australian outback during the Second World War, the story draws on the experiences of Joy’s paternal grandmother who spent much of her life on a farm in rural New South Wales.
Without further ado, here are Joy’s choices:
A favourite book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I find I’m a bit disloyal to my favourite books, in that there’s some moving on that’s a feature of the list. I’ve loved The Great Gatsby since I was a kid. I still do. And it does everything in a book I’d love to do: a strong sense of place and time; characters who are complex and whose imperfections drive the gripping story but make it no less tragic. Plus great moral questions about life and choices. Magic.
I loved Sula by Toni Morrison for the writing, and for drawing me to its world. It’s a remarkable book. And I’m currently a big fan of Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See. I loved the story — and the writing craft! I’m in awe.
A book that changed my life: My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
My Brilliant Career was a very important book to me when I was a teenager. I grew up in a small country town in western Queensland, and I had a wonderful childhood: a stable, loving family in a true community. But I knew early on I didn’t want to stay; I wanted to see the world that was out beyond the horizon. And that was a bit unusual, then. Seeing Sibylla feel those same urges to get away, to see places and do things, was a great and secret validation of what I was feeling. So that story hooked me completely.
As I get older, I can see too, it’s a beautifully crafted book, made all the more remarkable given it was published when Miles Franklin was 21.
A book that deserves a wider audience: Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko
Melissa is an award-winning Aboriginal writer of Goorie heritage. Mullumbimby is a novel of belonging, and of identity. The beautiful prose cuts deep. Jo Breen buys a piece of land in Bundjalung country, returning to the country of her forefathers. It’s set in a fictional town in the hinterland of northern NSW, and Jo attempts to tame her land — to fight the lantana—while trying to stay out of competing claims for native title. The book puts you right there. I could see and smell the lantana, and the rich, green of those lush hills. And it’s funny and poignant, too.
Melissa recently won the Copyright Agency Author Fellowship, adding to a list of earlier prizes. She’s a remarkable writer whose beautiful and compelling writing deserves a wide audience.
Thanks, Joy, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday.
I, too, love The Great Gatsby, and My Brilliant Career, which I only read a few years ago, impressed me with its strong feminist streak, despite being written in 1901. While I haven’t read Mullumbimby it has been on my wishlist for quite a while. I saw Melissa Lucashenko speak in London a couple of years ago and loved her forthright attitude.
What do you think of Joy’s choices? Have you read any of these books?