Madeleine St John was born in Sydney. She graduated from Sydney University in 1963. She lived and worked in London until her death in 2006. The Women in Black is her first novel. She also wrote A Pure Clear Light, 1996, The Essence of the Thing, 1997, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and Stairway to Paradise, 1999.
We all agreed that this was a lovely, light and charming read. We hadn't heard of the author before and enjoyed her writing style. We discussed her life and went through most of the discussion questions found in the pdf below.
We looked at pictures of old David Jones (one of the pictures of trams operating at the intersection of Barrack Street and George Street, Sydney - showing the David Jones Barrack Street store dated: 1950s ... see below) ......
David Jones, Sydney 1950
We noted the use of the foot x-ray machine that was for fitting shoes in the store at that time. Information on the fluoroscope and a picture can be seen here
We looked at books on everyday objects, items, furniture etc that were used in Australia in the 1960's, to give us a feel of the time. We also looked up the dress designers mentioned in the book and found some examples of the designer gowns that were typical of the time. The gowns that we looked at were absolutely amazing!!
Plans are being made for the book to be made into a film Get it at Goode's, directed by Bruce Beresford, staring Monica Bellucci, Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto.
Reviews and discussion questions:
Library Thing link [Note Jawin's entry]
The Independant [Madeline St John's orbituary by Bruce Beresford, which is also included in the book]