Book Bingo Twenty-Five – A Novel over 500 pages, and BINGO – Card completed.’

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December already, and I have completed my bingo card for the year – BINGO! Over the past twelve months, with Theresa and Amanda, and several others, I have taken part in several challenges, including Book Bingo. This post will focus on my final square – a novel (or book) of over 500 pages, and in my next and final post for the year, I will do my final wrap up of the challenge, to link into an overall 2019 wrap-up in the new year.

 

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My final square was the 500-page book – which I always felt this year would be difficult as not many books had come across my desk that were 500 or more pages. However, on #LoveYourBookshopDay, I bought a book called Rebel Women Who Changed Australia by Susanna de Vries, and then received a review copy of The Book of Dust Volume Two: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, and decided that would work too – as it was well over 500 pages. In fact, it was well over 600 pages!

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First, The Secret Commonwealth. Fans of His Dark Materials and La Belle Sauvage have been waiting a long time for this one. Taking place ten years after we leave Lyra in Oxford after her adventures, and twenty years after La Belle Sauvage, where Lyra is delivered by Alice and Malcolm to the safety of Jordan College, we are back with Lyra and Pan. But something is different. Readers have known something has changed with Lyra and Pan since The Amber Spyglass, but for a time, we’re not sure what – until a series of events sets Lyra and Pan off on a journey across Europe and Asia, in search of a secret city for daemons! Filled with adventure, thrills and mystery interspersed with the fantasy themes, this is a wonderful addition to the series, and very much deserves the lengthy review I gave it, especially after the way it ended and I hope we get a resolution to it soon. Some books need 500 or more pages – and this is one of them, as there is so much going on with Lyra, Pan, Malcolm, Hannah, Alice and the Magisterium, as well as old friends, Ma Costa and Farder Coram, that no word was wasted, and there was action and intrigue on every page and it slowed down where it needed to, and sped up where it needed to as well.

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The second book that I read for this square was Rebel Women Who Changed Australia, a biography that included the stories of women throughout Australian history from a variety of backgrounds who made ground-breaking changes in the industries they went into, even though many would doubt them. Many overlapped as well, and knew each other, which made it more interesting. Many of these stories were ones that I did not know initially, and nor did I know many of the names. I feel knowing these stories of these women, like not knowing our Indigenous history, is a huge oversight in our education system, where many accounts we read and learn about are from white men, even if these other, more diverse accounts were available. Knowing them is the exception, rather than the rule, and I believe there is room for all to be told, starting with books like this, which are really interesting and filled with the stories we should know.

BINGO!

Rows Across:

Row One: BINGO

A book with a red cover: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – #AWW2019

Beloved Classic: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner – AWW2018

A novel that has more than 500 pages: Rebel Women who Changed Australia by Susanna de Vries – #AWW2019, The Book of Dust Volume 2: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

A novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Prize winning book: Somewhere Around the Corner by Jackie French – #AWW2019, Alexander Altmann A10567 by Suzy Zail – #AWW2019

Row three: BINGO

Novel that has 500 pages or more: Rebel Women who Changed Australia by Susanna de Vries

 – #AWW2019, The Book of Dust Volume 2: The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

Fictional biography about a woman from history: Fled by Meg Keneally – #AWW2019

Themes of justice: What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson – AWW2019

Book set on the Australian coast: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – AWW2019

Written by an author under the age of 35: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson – #AWW2019

Historical: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Well, that’s it for the year! I’ll be writing my final wrap up post for the twenty-first in the next week or so, and all the reviews will be collected there.

Venus and Aphrodite: History of a Goddess by Bettany Hughes

venus and aphroditeTitle: Venus and Aphrodite: History of a Goddess

Author: Bettany Hughes

Genre: Biography, History, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 12th November 2019

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 242

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A vivid history of the ancient goddess Venus by the bestselling historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes

Through ancient art, evocative myth, exciting archaeological revelations and philosophical explorations Bettany Hughes shows why this immortal goddess endures through to the twenty-first century, and what her journey through time reveals about what matters to us as humans.

Charting Venus’s origins in powerful ancient deities, Bettany demonstrates that Venus is far more complex than first meets the eye. Beginning in Cyprus, the goddess’s mythical birthplace, Bettany decodes Venus’s relationship to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and, in turn, Aphrodite’s mixed-up origins both as a Cypriot spirit of fertility and procreation – but also, as a descendant of the prehistoric war goddesses of the Near and Middle East, Ishtar, Inanna and Astarte. On a voyage of discovery to reveal the truth behind Venus, Hughes reveals how this mythological figure is so much more than nudity, romance and sex. It is the both the remarkable story of one of antiquity’s most potent forces, and the story of human desire – how it transforms who we are and how we behave.

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Many gods and goddesses from various religions and myth cycles from all over the ancient world have not only fascinated people throughout the decades and centuries, but often have many counterparts. Aphrodite and Venus are two such goddesses – the same goddess from two different societies, who have gone from Greek  to Roman origins, and have been found in other incarnations in other Near East or Middle Eastern ancient cultures where they have evolved and changed as the society has needed them in their pantheon of gods and goddesses in polytheistic religions that either pre-date or run concurrently with the monotheistic religions we associate with the modern equivalents of those places.

Bettany Hughes explores the Grecian and Roman sides of the same goddess – Aphrodite and Venus, and her role in art and the pantheon, and how she came to be in each tradition, and how this influenced arts, stories and other narratives and characters throughout history.

Venus-Aphrodite is a figure that is more than nudity, romance and sex. Like many gods and goddesses, she has many more roles and layers to her, and what she brings to mythology and the understanding of humanity and human emotion. This history adds to our understanding of a goddess who is often reduced to what she is known to represent and stand for in mythology, rather than the complexities behind what she does.

Rather than justify her actions throughout the various myth cycles, Bettany Hughes explores these as part of the history of Venus-Aphrodite and how she has been represented, and what this has meant in how she is viewed and builds on this with layers and complexities.

This is an intriguing book for anyone interested in antiquity, and especially women and their role in antiquity, which is only going to build on our understanding of women and their role in the ancient world. It will help bring to life these myths in a new and exciting way.

A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Secret Game that Won the War by Simon Parkin

birds and wolves.jpgTitle: A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Secret Game that Won the War

Author: Simon Parkin

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography

Publisher: Hachette Australia/Sceptre

Published: 12th November 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 310

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Find out what is happening in the Atlantic, find ways of getting the convoys through, and sink the U-boats!’ Prime Minster, Winston Churchill

  1. The Battle of the Atlantic is a disaster. Thousands of supply ships ferrying vital food and fuel from North America to Britain are being torpedoed by German U-boats.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill is lying to the country about the number of British ships sunk. He is lying about the number of British men killed. And worst of all, unless something changes, he knows that Britain is weeks away from being starved into surrender to the Nazis.

This is the story of the game of battleships that won the Second World War. In the first week of 1942 a group of unlikely heroes – a retired naval captain and a clutch of brilliant young women, the youngest only seventeen-years-old – gather to form a secret strategy unit. On the top floor of a bomb-bruised HQ in Liverpool, the Western Approaches Tactical Unit spends days and nights designing and playing wargames in an effort to crack the U-boat tactics.

A GAME OF BIRDS AND WOLVES takes us from the sweltering fug of a U-boat as the German aces coordinate their wolfpack, to the tense atmosphere of the operation room as the British team plot battles at sea on the map.

The story of Operation Raspberry and its unsung heroines has never been told before. Investigative journalist Simon Parkin brings these hidden figures into the light and shows the ingenuity, perseverance and love needed to defeat the Nazis in this gripping tale of war at sea.

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In 1941, the Battle of the Atlantic is raging between Britain and Germany, months before Pearl Harbour is bombed and the Americans finally enter the war. Following the sinking of a ship taking evacuees to America for safety, where only thirty-three of all the children aboard survived, Churchill decides it is time to take more action. With each sunken ship, Britain is receiving fewer supplies to keep the country going. In 1942, a retired naval captain and a group of Wrens begin to plot a strategy to defeat the U-Boats, using maps and small ships to build a game to plan warfare – a game that would come to be known as Battleship. Parkin weaves between this and what was happening with Germany, and peppers it with personal stories of what happened, and in the events leading up to the creation of the game, showing just how close things came to ending up a different way, and how a simple game of secrecy became one of the biggest and most significant strategies in the war that would end in 1945 with the defeat of Germany.

Had Operation Raspberry not gone ahead and had these people whose stories have never been told not risked their lives to plot the naval battles of the Atlantic, World War Two might have had a very different outcome for many people in Europe and indeed, the rest of the world. This is another story from the war that has previously been untold and was shrouded in secrecy until Simon Parkin discovered it. It is an important story, because it adds to the historical record of how the trajectory of World War Two was changed, and ultimately, changed the outcome of the war.

Knowing these stories adds to our understanding of the war – some facts may have been known – the general facts, the basics, but not the intricacies of how the game came about, who was involved and what they spent their days doing, as well as the dangers they faced even just planning and executing the game, which led to safety measures being put in place after a few incidents.

Like other aspects and figures in history who have long been hidden, silenced or ignored for one reason or another, including issues around secrecy like this war game, these stories coming to light expands on what we already know, and gives us a new understanding for what happened and how it happened, and what it took to get there. With carefully researched books like this, these stories are told in engaging and intriguing ways, and should perhaps become recommended reading for students of history, especially when studying this area of history, so they can gain a better understanding beyond what we already know.

An intriguing read for anyone studying or interested in history.

The Sisters of Auschwitz by Roxane van Iperen

sisters of auschwitzTitle: The Sisters of Auschwitz

Author: Roxane van Iperen

Genre: History, Biography

Publisher: Hachette/Seven Dials

Published: 12th November 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 305

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: The life-affirming story of female bravery, Jewish Nazi resistance and surviving the horrors of Auschwitz

WINNER of the Opzij Literature Prize 2019!

During the Second World War two Jewish sisters – Janny and Lien Brilleslijper – run one of the largest hideaways in The Netherlands: The High Nest, a villa in The Gooi area. While the last remaining Jews are being hunted in The Netherlands, the lives of dozens of hideaways kept going for better or for worse, right under the noses of their National Socialist neighbours. Eventually, the nest is exposed and the Brilleslijper family put on one of the last transports to Auschwitz, along with the (Anne) Frank family.

Roxane’s novelistic eye combined with her rigorous research result in a hugely compelling portrayal of courage, treason and human resilience. THE HIGH NEST is a truly unforgettable book.

After Roxane and her family moved into The High Nest in 2012 she spent six years writing and piecing together its story. Fundamental elements of Roxane’s research into The High Nest are the personal, unpublished memoirs Janny Brilleslijper wrote for their close friends and family members. Roxane gained access to historic interviews with Janny, Lien, Eberhard and others, as well as many personal conversations with Janny and Lien’s children. The book will contain many photographs from the Brilleslijper family archive.

It is 1940 and the Final Solution is about to begin. The Nazis have occupied the Netherlands, but resistance is growing and two Jewish sisters – Janny and Lien Brilleslijper – are risking their lives to save those being hunted, through their clandestine safe house ‘The High Nest’. It becomes one of the most important safehouses in the country, but when The High Nest and its occupants are betrayed, the most terrifying time of the sisters’ lives begins. This is the beginning of the end.

With German defeat in sight, Janny and Lien are put on the last train to Auschwitz, along with Anne Frank and her family. What comes next challenges the sisters beyond human imagination as they are stripped of everything but their courage, resilience and love for each other.

~*~

There are many stories around about the Holocaust that explore as many facets as possible, but usually through the stories that have been allowed to be told in non-fiction, such as this one, or in historical fiction. As the description says, Roxane had permission and access to the archives of the Brillespijer family to tell the story. In the back of the book, she provides a list of the sources she accessed. This book has been translated from Dutch, so most of the sources are presumably, in Dutch. It is important that Roxane received permission to write this story and did it so carefully, as it is such a horrific part of history and needs to be dealt with sensitively.

In this powerful story of Janny and Lien starts just as the Nazi’s are encroaching on The Netherlands, and grabbing land for their use, so Janny and Lien find a way to get their families to safety and help as many Jews as possible. Yet there is still uncertainty prowling around, and though they spend four years helping as many Jews as possible escape the transports to concentration camps, a betrayal brings it to an end, and they find themselves on the way to Westeros and Auschwitz, and finally, Bergen-Belsen with the Frank family – at first, all of them. At the end, they are alone at Bergen-Belsen when they find out Anne and Margot are there. Janny and Lien are amongst the last to see Anne and Margot alive.

Roxane’s biography is filled with horror and uncertainty – as it should. Reading and learning about things like the Holocaust shouldn’t be sugarcoated or comfortable – it was awful. The story of Lien and Janny doesn’t shy away from the fear and the horror felt over the years of Nazism and war. It shows the steps taken as Hitler and the Nazis marched across Europe, taking land and segregating sections of society to ensure land for what Hitler hoped would be an Aryan world. As Janny and Lien do what they can to protect their family from harm, and keep each other going, their story is one of the powerful stories of the Holocaust, and shows what people went through without shying away from the gritty reality that people faced during the war.

 

Mudlarking: Lost and Found of the River Thames by Lara Maiklem

mudlarking.jpgTitle: Mudlarking: Lost and Found of the River Thames

Author: Lara Mailkem

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus

Published: 15th October 2019

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 320

Price: $32.99

Synopsis:  Mudlark (/’mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour

Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.

Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, which Lara calls the longest archaeological site in England.

As she has discovered, it is often the tiniest objects that tell the greatest stories.

For thousands of years human beings have been losing their possessions and dumping their rubbish in the River Thames, making it the longest and most varied archaeological site in the world. Lara Maiklem has trekked miles along the banks of the Thames, scouring the shores for over fifteen years in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: these objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life. Where others only see the detritus of city life, expert mudlarker Lara Maiklem unearths evidence of England’s captivating history, with some objects dating back as far as 4 AD, when London was an outpost of the Roman Empire, up to the present day. A mudlarker can expect to find Neolithic flints, Roman hair pins, medieval buckles, Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes and Victorian toys.

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Discovering history and archaeology is a unique process for everyone – from those who study the fields and work within them writing books and reports, to those whose interest lies in simply discovering the facts through these sources, and finally, people like Lara Maiklem, a mudlarker. A mudlarker is someone who scavenges for debris in the mud of a harbour or river.

For Lara, this scavenging area is the River Thames, stretching from the Tidal Thames and all the way through Central London. As a result, Lara has divided the book into sections of the River Thames, and within each section, it appears that different times in history are reflected in certain areas, from prehistoric times to the current day, where Lara discovers items made of all kinds of materials, from coins to buttons, old toys and remnants of war uniforms and battles that shaped the history of London and give a deeper insight into the lesser known stories than what is written in the history books.

Whilst discovering toys and buttons, Lara has also discovered old printing press letters, which have been used in the book, and she also gives a brief history of the printing press, and upper and lower case: Upper Case letters, or capital letters, where in the upper case of the press. So, naturally, the smaller letters, known as Lower Case, were in the cases below. This was one of the most interesting stories amongst many, where the items were not linked to anyone in particular, and perhaps this is what makes them so interesting because they would have belonged to someone whose name we might not know from history, and it is the potential to discover these stories and make links to those that have come before, as well as ensuring that even those without a voice are in a way, recognised even though their stories and names may never be known.

This is a history book with a difference: it gives insight into a world that is often hidden or unknown and provokes the ideas that history and archaeology is everywhere. It makes you wonder what could be in the waterways in other areas other than London, and what this could mean for local histories and what it could contribute to local, national and world history. It provided a unique and personal view of how mudlarking works, and the individual journey it can take you on, exploring the ethics and personal questioning of what to do with items, and when to collect them, as well as what to collect. It depends on the value the individual sees in them, and what one person sees will be different for someone else.

Rebel Women Who Changed Australia by Susanna de Vries

rebel women who shaped australiaTitle: Rebel Women Who Changed Australia

Author: Susanna de Vries

Genre: Biography

Publisher: Harper Collins Australia

Published: 15th April 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 592

Price: 34.99

Synopsis: Celebrate the women who changed our nation. From Lillie Goodisson, pioneer of family planning, to Eileen Joyce, world-famous pianist, Enid Lyons, our first female cabinet minister, Stella Miles Franklin, who endowed our most celebrated literary prize, and Dr Catherine Hamlin, whose fistula hospitals in Africa have given hope to thousands, Australian women have made a difference to our own country and the world.

While the history of Australia is rich with the accounts of the deeds of men, women’s contributions have often been overlooked. This updated and condensed edition of Susanna de Vries Complete Book of Great Australian Women remedies that and celebrates, for a new generation, women who broke the mould, crashed through ceilings, and shaped the nation in the fields of medicine, law, the arts and politics.

These are women who helped to forge the Australia we know today.

Dr Agnes Bennett – Dr Dagmar Berne – Nancy Bird Walton – Edith Cowan – Fanny Durack – Stella Miles Franklin – Mary Gilmore – Sister Lillie Goodisson – Dr Catherine Hamlin – Eileen Joyce – Annette Kellerman – Sister Elizabeth Kenny – Kundaibark – Louisa Lawson – Joice Nankivell Loch – Enid Burnell Lyons – Mary McConnel – Nellie Melba – Roma Mitchell – Oodgeroo Noonuccal – Sister Lucy Osburn – Margaret Rose Preston – Henry Handel Richardson – Joan Rosanove – Rose Scott – Ella Simon – Dr Constance Stone – Florence Mary Taylor – Kylie Tennant

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Rebel Women Who Changed Australia brings to life many stories that have been hidden for a long time – and some that might not have been wholly known, mixed in with the few whose names are often known. Of the women in this book, I probably had heard of and knew something about at least eight, whilst the rest I may have only heard in passing or never heard at all in my history lessons – something that I think can effectively be included without denying other important events and figures their place in history. They all matter, why shouldn’t we teach them all?

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Books like this allow hidden history to be revealed, and it covers white women, Indigenous women, rich women, and poor women. Women whose families had different ideas about what they should do, and women whose families supported them and helped them. These women all made different sacrifices or changes in their lives, and never let anyone else define them.

They each had a different journey, and passion but what unites them is their stories have often been hidden, forgotten or even framed alongside those of men, as many of the women in the medical field were. They fought to have their voices heard, and eventually did. Sometimes, they may have received credit in their day, and other times, it may have been assigned to a man in their field or lives – and only later did they get equal billing.

But now, we are hearing these stories and it makes history richer – and interesting as well. It allows women who achieved things in times when they were expected to do not much more than marry and have kids within society to be showcased, and gives girls heroes to look up to who aren’t passive princesses (although, in some fairy tales, the girls do hold their own. One just needs to read the originals instead of the sanitised, watered down versions).

What I’m enjoying about books like this is it shows women as more than what history books represent them as at times, and identify who they are and what they did, what made them exceptional for their time. It allows for readers of all ages to see what women could do, not only what they were expected to do, proving that these unstoppable rebel women refused to let anything, and anyone stop them reaching their goals. They pushed through barriers as much as possible, and at times, worked in their field until they were physically unable to, but by that time, they had made their mark and will forever be remembered for their remarkable achievements in the face of various barriers and attempts at resistance. A book that would effectively complement any Australian history course, and many women overlap, and indeed knew each other, and seeing these connections made it interesting as well.

Mary Poppins She Wrote: The Extraordinary Life of Australian writer P.L. Travers by Valerie Wilson

Mary poppins she wroteTitle: Mary Poppins She Wrote: The Extraordinary Life of Australian writer P.L. Travers

Author: Valerie Wilson

Genre: Biography

Publisher: Hachette

Published: 1st June 2010

Format: Paperback

Pages: 392

Price: $22.99

Synopsis: Discover the true story behind the creation of the world’s most beloved nanny, now appearing in Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns.

Mary Poppins flew into the lives of the Banks family and secured her place in the hearts of generations of children. Published in 1934, the book was instantly hailed as a classic. By the time Julie Andrews graced the screen in Disney’s 1964 adaptation, Mary Poppins was a household name.

The quintessentially English nanny was conceived by an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, whose troubled childhood bore little resemblance to the cheery optimism that is associated with the beloved children’s tale.

Fiercely independent, Travers left Australia for London in 1924 to work as a journalist and found herself rubbing shoulders with literary elites such as W.B. Yeats and T.S. Elliot. Travers famously clashed with Walt Disney, reluctantly selling him her film rights, and then slamming the resulting movie as ‘all fantasy and no magic’.

Like her mysterious character, Travers remained inscrutable and enigmatic to the end of her ninety-six years. Valerie Lawson’s detailed biography provides the only glimpse into the mind of a writer who fervently believed that ‘Everyday life is a miracle’.

Valerie Lawson’s illuminating biography examines the extraordinary life of the woman behind one of our most treasured characters.

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In 1934, the firstMary Poppins novel was published, written by Pamela Lyndon Travers, who went on to write another five in the series. In 1964, Disney finally won the battle to turn Mary Poppins into a movie – with obvious changes that Pamela objected to – as chronicled in the movie that was released several years ago, Saving Mr Banks –  a story that is only part of this book, and that in the movie is quite simplified from the complexities of Pamela’s life. From her early life in Maryborough and Allora, to her life in Sydney and Bowral later in childhood, and her travels across the world as an adult, seeking for something that she never really found, and the events that led her to write the Mary Poppins books.

P.L. Travers’ life was a complex one – and there are ma y things that many people might not know – like that she started her writing career with poetry in the UK, or that she felt she did not belong in Australia, despite being born there. Or that she suffered or seemed to suffer from a myriad of illnesses that often were not diagnosed.

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This biography posits Pamela as very independent, someone who saw two world wars and the Great Depression, Federation, suffrage in Australia, and many other key events. It gives great insight into what led to her writing Mary Poppins, even though Pamela claimed that Mary had just appeared one day – and she did not like to call herself a children’s writer, even though her books have always been enjoyed by and aimed at children.

The final chapter of the book covers the time Cameron Mackintosh spent negotiating live stage show rights with Disney – so he could connect the original stories with the movie and the books with a few additions that stayed true to the essence of Mary that Pamela insisted on for the movie, but never achieved. This takes place about fourteen years after Pamela died in 1996 – on the same day that Shakespeare was born and died – the 23rd of April.

I’ve read the firstMary Poppins book and seen both movies and the Saving Mr Banks movie – as well as the stage show. Each brings something unique to the character of Mary and her the other characters in the books and movies. Each is its own interpretation but at the same time, Pamela fought hard for certain things in the movie and lost on some grounds – but each still exists and we can enjoy the stage show, the movies and the books for what they are and at the same time. This book, in shedding some light on Travers, shows that everyone who has experienced the story in whichever format will experience it differently. One can also understand Pamela’s reluctance to allow Disney the rights to her stories and worried about what may happen. It would be another twenty-thirty years before the second book was optioned, with someone like Maggie Smith as Mary Poppins. Eventually this would become Mary Poppins Returns with Emily Blunt, released last year, with a shift in time. It mirrored some events that were in other books that I am yet to read, and other characters – but still retained many of the aspects Pamela hated about the original.

Biographies of authors are interesting because we get to see where they came from, and what led them to writing the work or works they are most well-known for. For PL Travers, this is the only biography that we have exploring the life of this author, that goes beyond what everyone knows her for – she led a complex life and one that many people would not have realised she led, or what she had to deal with at a young age – a very insightful and interesting book.