Archive | March, 2012

Review: Mary Poppins Comes Back

31 Mar

The second in the series, ‘Mary Poppins Comes Back’ weaves the special magic created by the brilliantly inventive Australian female writer P.L.Travers.

Although first published in the mid 1930’s, it’s stood the test of time, partly due to its language use, partly due to its timeless appeal to our imagination, and partly due to the cinematic and stage revival of Mary Poppins as an iconic figure.

As in other volumes, Mary Poppins arrives (and leaves) in magical circumstances; and, as always, the intervening period is full of magical happenings denied as reality by Mary Poppins herself.

My favourite story from this book concerns the unwanted arrival of Mister Banks’ childhood Governess, Miss Euphemia Andrew, who proves herself to be every bit the ‘Holy Terror’ whom he had earlier described. This provides Mary Poppins with an ideal opportunity to display not only her abundance of bravery, but also her kindness and sense of decency by releasing the lark that the formidable, terrifying Miss Andrew had herself trapped and caged for the preceding two years. Justice is served when Miss Andrew finds herself captured in the tiny cage, and carried off by the lark. On her return, she is forced to humble herself to Mary Poppins, and leaves the family to rejoice at her exit.

Despite her sternness and conceit, Mary Poppins remains an endearing character, a ‘treasure’, to the Banks’ family, and the household always sorely laments her departure.

Some people seem to think that the first volume, ‘Mary Poppins’, is superior: nevertheless ‘Mary Poppins Comes Back’ is,  and remains, a remarkable children’s classic.

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We’re Getting There!

28 Mar

For the benefit of those who have never undertaken this, I’ll tell you…

The publication of a book: any book: is a process encompassing many tasks.

There’s a constant stream of decisions, ranging from titles to topics, language to themes.  Then, there’s the actual writing: nowadays,  a computer replaces my now outdated typewriter, and I wonder how, previously,  I ever finished anything!

Next comes revision, which can be done many times over, but here you need to be careful not to over-work. Just as too many cooks spoil the broth, too much tweaking can spoil the book!

Self-published authors have the chance to choose their own covers, which can be an extension of artistry, and stamp the book (almost) instantly recognizable. Here, I’m lucky to have my husband Ronald Sharp, the Sydney Opera House organ builder, and expert photographer, to design it.

Hooray! Our sixth book is almost there… and, any day now, I’ll announce its title. But you’ll have to wait a little longer for its release date.

Fingers crossed for a successful outcome!

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Life’s a Beach…

24 Mar

Sydney has some world-class beaches, and for my money, Cronulla, both north and south, is up there with the finest. Small wonder then that I’ve chosen it as a setting for one of the stories in my next, soon to be published book.

A perfect autumn day: clear blue sky, mild to warm temperatures, only a hint of a breeze: draws the crowds outdoors.

As we sit this afternoon on Cronulla’s beach-side promenade,watching the world go by, I am once again struck by both the natural beauty of the sea and the vibrant atmosphere the passer byes create.

There is plenty to observe: crashing waves, spectators, surfers, swimmers, and well-behaved canines of all varieties: to name just a few.

Above all, the vastness of the ocean against the horizon breeds a special kind of tranquility and happiness in me.

Life is good.

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It’s here: Autumn….

23 Mar

Here in Sydney, Australia, we’ve just gone through the strangest summer I can remember. Wet and cool; what a contrast to the year before….

I guess that explains why the changing of the seasons has crept up so gradually: but this morning I realise where we are.

As I open the back door and stride outside, I suddenly notice it. The freshness of the air, deliciously cool; the gentle, unrelenting shower of yellow, gold, and orange leaves that waft down, carpeting the lawn. Automatically, I turn my eyes upwards, taking in the thousands of leaves yet to fall.

The houseproud may detest them, yet what greater messenger of the arrival of fall is the humble deciduous tree?

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The Challenge Gains Momentum

20 Mar

The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012 is moving ahead, with several hundred reviews; many vibrant with enthusiasm!

Booksellers are getting on board with easily recognized promotions. Surely the public awareness of us is being significantly heightened.

Concurrent with the National Year of Reading 2012, let’s hope the Challenge reveals some great new talent!

Back in the Dentist’s Chair

20 Mar

What a day!

I front up again like the proverbial lamb, held together by one saving grace. This is it: the end of the line. By two-thirty: three at the latest: I’ll be free!

I convince myself that today will be easier. After all, aren’t I getting to be an old hand at this? My third session in as many weeks; surely familiarity breeds something positive.

It doesn’t take long to dispel this dream: five minutes in, I know this is one of those things that simply doesn’t get better.

Oh, what a sigh of relief I’ll breathe at the end of it…..

“There are two more holes,” the dentist tells me matter-of-fact. It’s just as well I am sitting down.

Oh well, such is life!



Review: Mary Poppins Opens the Door

15 Mar


It’s been noted before by others: the lack of recognition of Australian origins of the classic ‘Mary Poppins’ volumes. Recent conversations with those of younger years than myself: bears this out.

Pamela Lyndon Travers, real name Helen Lyndon Goff, was born in Maryborough, Queensland, the daughter of an unsuccessful bank manager, Travers Robert Goff. Moving to Bowral, N.S.W. as a child, it’s believed it’s here she evolved the idea of Mary Poppins.

Published in 1944, I first read ‘Mary Poppins Opens the Door’ as a child, more years ago than I care to nominate.

Question is: how does my childhood enchantment stack up against the viewpoint of middle-age?

My first impression is that it’s a true evergreen; that generation after generation will be captivated by the magnetic figure of Mary Poppins, who manages to simultaneously tame and enthrall her young charges, the Banks’ children.

Typically stern, even snappy, she nevertheless beguiles with enviable ease, everyone who comes her way.

Is part of her attraction the fact that she sets the children standards and boundaries?

Be that as it may, it’s surely her magic, her reverence: that propels her to stardom.

There’s a range of stories, including an encounter with the statue, Neleus, that’s briefly transformed into a living, moving child; a Cat that outsmarts a King; parties that see Mary present as an honoured guest. A chapter each, I feel that a few were a tad more drawn out than absolutely necessary.

Nevertheless, this volume is and remains a great choice for children and parents to read together or separately, and discuss.

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