The Broken Book

Susan Johnson, Author . Allen & Unwin $14.95 (310p) ISBN 978-1-74114-664-6

Australian novelist Johnson evokes a tormented portrait of the fictional writer Katherine Elgin from her journal entries, excerpts of her unfinished autobiographical novel and assorted letters. This fragmented novel spans the decades from Katherine's childhood in the 1920s to her death in 1969, following the protagonist from her native Australia to the U.K. in the 1950s, Greece in the early '60s and back to Sydney by the end of that decade. Katherine marries author David Murray, with whom she has two daughters, Anna and Elizabeth. She is torn between her writing career and her role as wife and mother. "I am the bloody Pied Piper to my children, who are instructed by their instincts to follow me everywhere," she laments. Her once ardent marriage sours over time, and the novel, which starts at the end of her life, begins with David's harsh criticism of her overwrought autobiographical novel, excerpts of which are less compelling than her journal entries. In this sentimental yet provocative work, Johnson (Flying Lessons ) wrestles with the well-worn conflict between a woman's obligation to her family and the creative impulse that drives her. (Sept. )

Reviewed on: 06/26/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
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