When I wrote the title, I seriously considered giving Gillian a new name. But, no…
This is to announce that the novel formally known with the title of ‘Secret Jewish Women’s Business’ will now be known with the title of ‘The Wizardry of Jewish Women’.
To whet your appetites, here’s the blurb:
Who wants superpowers? Not Rhonda. Rhonda wants to live an ordinary life.
“My life is a soap opera with magic,” thinks Judith, as she reviews her year. Before it all begins, she just wants to lose her past and keep her children safe. Belinda, her sister, wants recipes. Their lives are simple.
All three women get a lot more than they bargained for in 2002 and 2003. Bushfires. A possessed lemon tree. Prophecy. Magic. Romance. Violence. Politics. Family.
Secret Jewish Women’s Business ought to be more exotic than suburban Australia. Except that sometimes, suburban Australia is chancy and troubling. Even without those mystery boxes from the great-grandmother no-one talks about. Even without the Angel of Death and Zoë’s pink tutu.
And this is Gillian’s potted bio (her words, not mine!):
I was going to write the usual bio, saying that I have a PhD. And another. That I was born in Melbourne. That I live in Canberra. That I love books and chocolate. There are some aspects of this novel that come from aspects of me and this novel is about revelations, however, so I’ll tell you a bit more than how many books I own and how I used to be a Girl Guide.
Anglo-Australian Jewish culture isn’t well-documented and I wanted to tell a story using it before it disappears entirely. It’s the cultural background of my father’s mother’s family. I call it ‘scones-and-committee’ Judaism and it tends more to the left than the right. It’s about books and education and I didn’t realise how very English it was until I noticed that I have quite a few friends who are at the High Church end of the Church of England. It’s also very Jewish.
I’m fond of saying “My background isn’t quite Fiddler on the Roof” and “I definitely have more Latin than Yiddish.” The lack of Yiddish is typical of the few families that remain who have this particular heritage but, alas, the Latin isn’t. This is why none of my characters can read Latin. I lament their lack.
I went to state schools and have never not wanted to vote or to be a useful citizen: this is also my heritage. Being Jewish and female and Australian, I’ve had to fight a bit harder than many and my need to be useful led me to the women’s movement. Twenty years of fighting for social justice in my spare time gave me a fair understanding of what opportunities would be open to my characters and how they would use them.
Very appropriately, this novel is being launched during Women’s History Month. Helen Leonard and Lulu Respall-Turner and Veronica Wensing and I made up the core group that began it in Australia. I tell how we did this as often as people will let me, because it amuses me. Judith and June represent some of the women we founded the month for. Unlauded women who work quietly and impossibly hard to stop the world from imploding. I don’t know how they do it over a lifetime. Twenty years left me beyond exhausted. I am but a shadow of my former workshop-running, policy-writing, dreaming self.
A Canadian politician told me once, that I really should just write the novels. But I had to discover this for myself. All my novels are political, for I’m not sure I’m capable of letting the world slide into an abyss. For the record, writing novels is the easier path.