I always go into a reading marathon after Christmas.
It’s downtown for me. Between TRH and I we get quite a few new books. This year was no exception. To my delight I was given some by my new favourite author. Her name is Judy Nunn. Born in Perth in 1945, at 19 years of age she moved to Sydney to take up a career in acting. Judy is well known in Australia for her roles in various TV soapies – Prisoner, Home and Away, The Box, Sons and Daughters. Acting on stage and screen as well as screenwriting have been part of her long and successful acting career.
In the 1980’s Judy’s interest turned to writing. She has published several successful children’s fictionbooks –
The Riddle of the Trumpalar (1981, as Judy Bernard-Waite) with Patricia Bernard and Fiona Waite
Challenge of the Trumpalar (1986, as Judy Bernard-Waite) with Patricia Bernard and Fiona Waite
Eye in the Storm (1988)
In 1991 she published her first adult fiction book, The Glitter Game. Since then, she has gone on to publish another twelve books. I only discovered her earlier this year when I happened to see a promotional story about her latest book, The Spirits 0f the Ghan. Curious to see how an actor had transitioned into becoming such a successful author, I bought the book.
Judy writes australian historical novels. Her style is engaging and character driven. The Ghan follows the story of the last days of building the trans-Australian railway line connecting Adelaide to Darwin. That was a hook for me too. My hometown features quite a lot in this book so it made the reading of it all the more interesting. It covers the final stages of the railway construction where surveyors need to be mindful of respecting Aboriginal land and sacred sites. The story gives fascinating insights into the challenges, lifestyle and history of this interesting time in Australian history.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed this latest novel by Judy Nunn, I resolved to read more of her work. And put in an order to Santa for more of her books. I have now read three. All just as interesting. Yet all set in very different times and places of Australian history.
Floodtide is set in Judy’s birth town of Perth. Covering a period of four decades of prosperity, greed, corruption and political power play, the story unfolds by following the lives of four men – Mike, Pembo, Spud and Murray. Insights into the complex systems that were at play during the big mineral boom, hard core business and environmental challenges are interwoven into a very personal story of the main characters’ lifelong friendships.
The third book I have just finished is Pacific. This book was very different. It really is two books set in different eras yet the storyline is intricately interwoven. The story switches back and forth between the two. A little disconcerting at first, nevertheless I found it a compelling and fascinating read. The main character is a modern young Australian actress who moves to England to further her acting career. Whilst there she is offered lead role in a Hollywood war epic. What unfolds is a web of synchronicities and connections between her fictional movie character and the real lives on which the movie has been loosely scripted. I don’t want to go into any more detail about the plot in case anyone is interested in reading the book. Let’s just say that it is a fascinating and very enjoyable read.
Judy Nunn was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2015 Australia Day Honours for her service to the performing arts as a scriptwriter and actor of stage and screen, and to literature as an author.
© Raili Tanska